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Full text of "Gold hunting in Alaska"

Grinnell, Joseph 

Gold hunting in 
Alaska 



P 
309 

G76 





10 the 

of 0rmtta 



of tl]e ^9tttliertty of Toronto, 
nnb eminent Canabtatt 

explorer, anb scholar 



iw Sabbath Library. NO. 31. 



j Single Copy, 5 Cents. 
1 By Mail, . . 8 Cents. 





Ill 

in 



I 



iCntffim 



^'tein'iii'iaii^ 



IN 



lfliK A , 

A 







AS TOLD BY 

JOSEPH GRINNELL 

EDITED BY 

LIZABETH GRINNELL 






DAVI D G. COOK PU BLI SH I NG CO. 

ELGIN, ILL.& 36 WASHI NGTON ST, CHICAGO. 



THE NEW 3 ABB A m LIBRARY 

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The Girl Warriors 

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This book for girls is a most interesting and in- 
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Gold Hunting in Alaska 

BY JOSEPH GRINNELI* 

A story of the adventures of young gold-seekers in 
Alaska. It abounds in interesting -information and is 
profusely illustrated. 



The Transformation of Job 

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( CONTINUED ON THIRD PAGK COVBB ) 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA 



AS TOLD BY 




JOSEPH GRINNELL 



EDITED BY ELIZABETH GRINNELL 

Author of "How John and 1 Brought Up the Child," "John and I and the Church," "Our Feathered 
Friends," " For the Sake of a Name," etc. 



Dedicates to Disappointed golosbimters tbe world over 



DAVID C. COOK PUBLISHING COMPANY 

ELGIN, ILL., AND 
36 WASHINGTON STREET, CHICAGO 




ALASKA. 



The New World brings her daughter out 

With fuss and bluster now; 
Adorers sesk her snow-white hand, 

And at her beauty bow. 
Each strives her favor first to gain, 
And rudely steps upon her train. 

They court her while they call her " cold " 

And "distant" to her face; 
The heiress smiles, while quick breaths lift 

Her frills of ancient lace 
The eyes of all her suitors rest 
On glint of gold upon her breast. E. G. 






673045 



COPYRIGHT, 1901, 
BY DAVID C. COOK PUBLISHING COMPANY 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



PREFACE. 



The following story was originally written 
in pencil on any sort of paper at hand, and 
intended merely for " the folks at home." 
It is only by a prior claim to the manuscript 
that the young gold-hunter's mother has ob- 
tained his consent to publish it. The diary 
has been changed but little, nor has much 
been added to make it as it stands. The nar- 
rative is true from beginning to end, includ- 
ing the proper names of persons and vessels 
'and mining companies. It is offered to the 
David C. Cook Publishing Company with no 
further apologies for its sometimes boyish 
style of construction. It will give the reader, 



be he man or boy. a hint as to how a young 
fellow may spend his time in the long Arctic 
winter, or in the whole year, even though he 
be a disappointed gold-hunter. It may af- 
ford suggestion to mining companies contin- 
ually going to Alaska as to their responsi- 
bility to each other and to the natives of the 
" frozen North." It may give " the folks 
at home " some intimation as to possible 
" good times " under trying circumstances. 
Blue fingers may not necessarily denote a 
blue heart. 

ELIZABETH GRINNELL. 
Pasadena, Cal., Jan. 15, 1901. 



CHAPTER I. 

VE ARE a company of twenty men 
bound for Kotzebue Sound, Alaska. 
It is needless to say we are gold-hunt- 
ers. In this year of our Lord 1898, men are 
flying northward like geese in the spring- 
time. That not more than one of us has 
ever set eyes on a real, live nugget passes 
for nothing; we shall naturally recognize 
" the yellow " when we see it. It is our inten- 
tion to ransack Mother Nature's store- 
houses, provided we can unlock or pry open 
the doors without losing our fingers by 
freezing. 

Why we have selected Kotzebue Sound as 
the field of our maneuvers it would be diffi- 
cult to give a rational reason. It may be 
nothing more nor less than the universal rush 
to the gold fields of Alaska, which rush, be- 
ing infectious, attacks all grades and con- 
ditions of men. That all grades and con- 
ditions are represented in our company will 
be demonstrated later on, I believe. 

The instigator of the Long Beach and 
Alaska Mining and Trading Company is an 
undertaker by trade, a sometime preacher 
by profession and practice when not other- 
wise engaged. His character is not at all 
in keeping with his trade; he is a rollicking 
fellow and given to much mirth. 

We have also a doctor, as protection 
against contingencies. His name is Coffin. 
He and the undertaker have been bosom 



friends for years. The combined influences 
of these are sufficient to insure proper ter- 
mination to our trip, if not a propitious jour- 
ney. The eldest of our company is rising 
fifty, the youngest twenty-one. The oldest 
has lived long enough to be convinced that 
gold is the key that unlocks all earthly 
treasures; his sole object is the key hidden 
somewhere in the pockets of the great 
Arctic. The youngest cares little for the 
gold, being more concerned about certain 
rare birds which may cross his devious path. 
The most of us have never met before, but 
are now an incorporated mining company, 
like hundreds of ship's crews this year. 
Each intends to do his share of work and to 
claim his portion of the profits, if profits 
come. 

We have a two years' outfit of every com- 
fort possible to store away on a little 
schooner seventy-two by eighteen feet. Her 
name is " Penelope;" you can read it in 
plain type half a mile away. She was built 
for Japan waters and has never set keel in 
Arctic seas. There are numerous prophecies 
concerning her: " She will never reach her 
destination;" " Impossible that she is built 
for a stormy coast;" "You may as well 
make your wills before you embark." And 
many other cheering benedictions are tossed 
to the deck by friends on shore who watch 
us loading the freight into her hold. 

We make no retort. Of what would be the 
use? Our hearts, our hopes, ourselves, are 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



on board of her for better or for worse. We 
wave our handkerchiefs in a last " good-by." 
They are the only white handkerchiefs in 
our possession, brought and shaken out to 
the winds for this very purpose. From 
henceforth the bandana reigns on occasions 
when any is required. Old Glory floats 
above us; the " Penelope " is bright with 
new paint and trimmings and masts; she is 
towed out of San Pedro Harbor, and heads 
for San Francisco for more supplies. 

Out of San Pedro Harbor! The very same 
of which R. H. Dana wrote in 1840 as a 
" most desolate looking place," frequented 



miles; that is, in a direct line on our course 
to Unamak Pass through the Aleutian 
Islands, for we have had many unfavorable 
winds against which we were compelled to 
tack. We have sailed two thousand miles, 
counting full distance. We have experienced 
two storms which, put together, as the cap- 
tain says, makes ".a good half a gale." 
While the " Penelope " rides the highest bil- 
lows like a duck, at times she pitches and 
rolls in a terrific fashion. Her movements 
are short and jerky, unlike those of a 
steamer or larger vessel. When the wind 
blows hard on her quarter, the rail is often 
under water. This 
makes locomotion diffi- 
cult, especially if the 
waves are rolling high, 
and everything i s 
bouncing about on 
deck. It is my duty to 
carry " grub " from the 
galley to the cabins, 
and I can never handle 
more than one thing at 
a time, as I am obliged 
to keep one hand free. 
I wai;; for my oppor- 
tunity, else a heavy sea 
starts at the same time 
and we go down to- 
gether, " grub " and all. 
However, I have had 
few accidents. Once I 

"Penelope" at Anchor in San Pedro Harbor. landed a big platter of 

mush upside down on 
the deck, and at an- 
by coyotes and Indians, but "altogether the other time a gust of wind took all the bis- 




best harbor on all the coast." 

We have a copy of his " Two Years Before 
the Mast " on board, and shall be compli- 
mented by what he says about the English- 
men and Americans whom he met. "If the 
California fever (laziness) spares the first 



cuits overboard, while a big sea filled the 
milk pitcher with salt water. This was not 
so bad as Dana's experience with the 
" scouse," which " precious stuff " came 
down all over him at the bottom of the 
hatchway. " Whatever your feelings may 



generation, it always attacks the second." be, you must make a joke of everything at 



Did Dana mean the crew 
lope"? We shall see. 



of the " Pene- 



Having made a dutiful promise to my 
mother to " keep a faithful diary " of our 



sea," he wrote just after he had found 
himself lying at full length on the slippery 
deck with his tea-pot, empty and sliding to 
the far side. We are better off than the 
crew of the " Pilgrim " in 1840, for there is 



cruise, which, in event of disaster, shall be plenty more, if half the breakfast goes to 



duly corked in a large bottle, and sent adrift. 
I now enter my first date since April 8, 
1898, the day on which we set sail 
San Pedro, California. 



North Pacific Ocean, Tune 5. We are sev- 
enteen daj's out from San Francisco, and 
have made a little over twelve hundred 



feed the fishes. 

Down in the cabin there is the most fun. 
from The table is bordered by a deep rail, and 
several slats are fastened crosswise over the 
surface to hold the dishes, besides holes and 
racks for cups; yet when things are inclined 
at an angle of thirty five degrees it is almost 
impossible, without somebody's hand on 



GOLD HUNTJNG IN ALASKA. 



each separate dish, to keep the meal in sight. 
We have some trouble in cooking at times, 
but the stove lias an iron frame with cross 
pieces on top to keep the kettles from slid- 
ing, which, in rough weather, can never be 
filled more than half. We usually get up 
very good meals; that is, for such of the 
crew as have an appetite. For breakfast, 
rolled oats mush, baking - powder biscuit, 
boiled eggs or potatoes, and ham. For din- 
ner, light bread or milk toast, beans or 
canned corn, salt-horse, creamed potatoes, 
and often soup with crackers. For supper, 
canned fruit, muffins or corn bread, boiled 
ham and baked potatoes. Of course tea or 
coffee with each meal. The cook makes fine 
yeast bread, ten loaves a day. There are 
twenty-three men on board, including the 
hired sailors who are not of the company, 
and even with five in the hospital we make 
way with a good deal of food. 

Our fare differs somewhat from that of 
the crew of the " Pilgrim." whose regular 
diet, Dana wrote, was " salt beef and bis- 
cuit," with " an occasional potato." But it 
must be remembered that we had several 
articles, such as eggs and ham and fresh po- 
tatoes, the first days of our cruise, which we 
never saw later on when we were confined 
to bacon and beans for staple supplies, with 
dessicated vegetables and some canned 
goods for extras. 

We left San Francisco May 19, after tak- 
ing on board the parts of a river boat, to be 
put together when needed, and much more 
Arctic clothing than we can possibly use in 
two or even four years. The sea was very 
rough. Our captain had not been on board 
ship for two years, and the result was that 
he, with every one of the party except the 
sailors, was very sea-sick. The doctor was 
pretty well in a couple of days, but the un- 
dertaker fared not so well. He stayed on 
deck and sang and jumped about and did his 
best to keep jolly as long as nature could, 
hold out, Presently one could tell that he 
was feeling rather uneasy r.bout something, 
when all of a sudden quietness reigned and 
only an ominous sound from over the rail 
gave indication of what was passing. 

We have some tine singing. " The " Pene- 
lope Quartette " has been formed and prac- 
tices every evening, makinir voluminous 
noise, but there is no fear of disturbing 
adjoining meetings or concerts. The quar- 
tette is composed of Reynolds (the under- 
taker), Foote, Wilson and Miller. There are 
other singers of less renown. We have a 
" yell," which is frequently to be heard, es- 



pecially at getting-up time in the morning. 
It is " Penelope, Penelope, zip. boom, ah! 
Going up to Kotzebue! rah! rah! rah!" 

We are very much crowded and have 
many discomforts, as anyone can imagine 
we should have in so close quarters; but we 
are a congenial crowd. I was sea-sick for a 
week, but am all right now and capable of 
eating more than anyone else, a symptom 
which the doctor fears may continue, as 1 
make it a rule to eat up all there is left at 
both tables. There are eleven men in the 
after cabin and twelve in the forward cabin, 
including the forecastle, and each set have 
meals served in their respective cabins. 
Having been chosen as " cook's assistant," I 
have ample opportunities. 

We have seen but few things of interest 
outside the boat, and that makes us more 
interesting to one another. We have sighted 
no vessels for two weeks. I saw two fur 
seals. They stuck their heads above the 
water just behind us. eying us curiously for 
a few minutes, and then vanished. We have 
seen one shark, but no whales. Petrels, or 
Mother Gary's Ghickens, are almost always 
to be seen flitting over the waves. Black- 
footed albatrosses, or " goonies." as the sail- 
ors call them, are common, following the 
boat and eating all kinds of scraps thrown 
to them. We caught two with a fish-hook, 
but let them go, as there is now no suitable 
place to put the skins. One of the alba- 
trosses measured seven feet three inches 
from tip to tip of the outstretched wings. 
We fastened upon his back a piece of can- 
vas, giving the " Penelope," with the date 
and longitude and latitude. I wonder if he 
will ever be seen again, and, if seen, if this 
will be the only news of us the world will 
ever receive! 

There are several " goonies " which seem 
to follow us constantly. We have named 
them Jim, Tom and Hannah. They know 
when meal time arrives, and then come close 
alongside within a few feet. 

Tuesday, June 7. The past two days have 
been stormy, but we have made good time 
and are only four hundred and sixty-seven 
miles from Unamak Pass. We saw several 
pieces of kelp this morning, which gives evi- 
dence of land not far off. This morning the 
sun came out several times, and every one 
is feeling quite jolly, which makes even the 
sea -sick ones better. One of the most pop- 
ular songs on deck these cloudy days has 
been the familiar one, " Let a little sunshine 
in." Everyone was singing it to-day, when 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 




Cooks' Union. 




Sailors' Union. 



suddenly the 
clouds broke as if 
by impulse and the 
warm sunshine 
flooded the damp 
decks. 

The sun doesn't 
set now till nearly 
nine o'clock, and 
the whole night 
long it is scarcely 
dark at all. 
To-day Clyde took the pictures of the 
party in groups, or " unions." There is the 
" Sailors' Union " (six of the boys besides 
the regular 
sailors, who go 
to the watch 
along with 
them and take 
their tricks at 
the wheel), 
the "Dish- 
washers' 
U n i o n," the 
"Doctors' 
Union" (Dr. 
Coffin, and 
Jett, who is a druggist), the " Cooks' Union " 
(Shafer and myself), and the " Crips' Union " 
(the cripples, or those who are sea-sick, and 
do no work; they are Fancher, Wyse, Mc- 
Collough, Wilson, Reynolds and Shaul). If 
the winds are favorable we expect to rest in 
Dutch Harbor for a few days, as we are no 
doubt too early to get into Kotzebue. From 
all accounts we cannot hope to reach the 
Sound until July 14. 

This sort of experience is so new to me. 
I thought I knew something of life on a 
schooner, during the trip to San Clemente 
and San Nicholas hist year, but this is more 
and better. Nearly everyone save myself is 
longing for land, and they watch our course 
each day as it is traced on the chart with 
more interest than anything else. Just now 
i am sitting alone on a bench in the little 
galley, watching the potatoes and salt-horse 
boiling. The sun has come out and every- 
one is on deck, the " crips " lying against 
the stern rail or along the side of the cabin. 
By orders of the doctor all the bedding is 
airing on the deck and rails amidships, and 
some of the boys are taking advantage of 
the fair weather to do their washing. I did 
my own yesterday, although it was raining, 
and. as I have a " pull " with the cook. I 
dried the clothes in the galley at night. Of 
course all washing has to be done in salt 



water and it is scarcely satisfactory, to say 
the least. This necessary laundry work of 
ours is destined to occupy a good deal of 
our time and patience, and I suspect that 
before our cruise is over we shall long for a 
glimpse of a good, faithful washerwoman 
with her suds, and her arms akimbo, and her 
open smile. 

June 12. We are in Bering Sea and all's 
well. It is partly clear, but cold, with a 
sharp wind. We went through Uuamak 
Pnss in the night. The captain thought it 
dangerous as well as delaying, to stop at 
Dutch Harbor, so we gave it up with disap- 
pointment. After beating for several hours, 
we are now well on our way straight north- 
ward to St. Lawrence Island. There is no 
ice in sight, but we can smell it distinctly. 
As we went through the Pass it was raining, 
and we could see but indistinctly the pre- 
cipitous shores. The Pass is not usually 
taken by sailing vessels, as it is quite nar- 
row, but our captain brought us through all 
right in spite of fog and storm. He has not 
slept for forty-eight hours. The shortest 
time ever made by a sailing vessel from San 
Francisco to Unamak Pass, 2,100 miles, was 
eighteen days; and we made it with the 
" Penelope " in twenty-three days. Hurrah 

, for the "Penelope"! 

This morning we 
passed within hailing 
distance of the ship 
" Sintram," of San 
Francisco. She had 
taken a cargo to St. 
Michaels and was on 
her way back. Her 
captain promised to re- 
port us, and he also 
told us that the ice 
was yet packed north 




Dishwashers' Onion. 



of St. Michaels and that several ships were 
waiting. Clyde took a snap shot of the 
" Sintram." 

There are 
plenty of 
birds to be 
seen now. If 
I had faith 
enough to 
warrant m y 
walking o n 
the water I 
would go 
shooting. Our 
small boats 
are all lashed Crips , Union> 




the deck of the " Penelope, but the cap- 
tain says that in a few days we can put a 
skiff overboard if it is calm, and then ho! 
for murre pot-pie! Everyone is hungry for 




GOLD HUN21NG IN ALASKA. 



1 



A Sunbath on Deck. 

fresh meat. We try fishing with no luck. 
Saw a fur seal to-day, the first in two weeks. 

June 19, Bering Sea, latitude 63 degrees, 
longitude 172 degrees, 38 minutes. For the 
past few days we made good time, one hun- 
dred miles to the day, but on this date we 
are becalmed. Clyde has gone out in the 
boat to catch a snap shot of us. He need 
not hurry, for never was mouse more still 
than the " Penelope " at this moment. The 
thermometer registers 38 degrees on deck. 
We have sighted no ice yet, and hope the 
Bering Straits are open. 

I am sitting in the galley, as my fingers get 
too cold to write outside. We have just 
cleared off supper, and the boys are pacing 
the deck for exercise. Some of them are be- 
low, where an oil stove in each cabin takes 
the chill and dampness from the nir. It is 
seldom that the galley is not crammed full, 
but just now the cook and the others have 
gone below for a game of whist, so I em- 
brace the opportunity to write. My diary is 
always written after I have finished my 
daily bird notes, which I make as copious as 
possible. I have some good records already. 
We were becalmed three days in sight of the 
Prybiloff Islands, and at one time were so 
close to St. Paul Island that we could hear 
the barking of thousands of seais, and, by 
the aid of a field glass, could see them on 



the beaches. A few were seen about the 
" Penelope," and one came so near to the 
boat that it was touched with an oar. We 
nnlashed the smallest boat and rowed out 
with her during the calmest days, so we had 
some much-needed exercise. Frequent fogs 
kept us near the " Penelope's " side, as we 
should easily become lost. We saw no ducks 
or geese, but we had murres in plenty and 
pot-pie for several days. For a change the> 
were served up in roasts, being first boiled, 
and were finer than any duck I have tasted, 
though some of the squeamish crew compos- 
ing the " Crips' Union " declared they were 
" fishy." 

Of course I improve every opportunity dur- 
ing pleasant days to collect, and the result is 
thirteen first-class bird skins. These sea 
birds are almost all fat and the grease clings 
to and grows into the- skin so. firmly that it 
is almost impossible to put them up. Among 
the good things which I have secured are 
the crested auklet, red phalarope, pallas. 
murre and horned puffin, but it will be diffi- 
cult to nreserve the skins in this damp cli- 
mate. Dr. Coffin is becoming interested al- 
ready, and talks of putting in his spare 
time collecting with me. He has been tak- 
ing lessons in skinning, and so far has put 
up two specimens. We have rigged up a 
cracker-box for our bird-skins and try to 
keep it in the dryest place, though it is so 







Speaking the "Sintram." 

crowded on shipboard that a convenient 
place for any particular thing is scarce. 

The currents in Bering Sea are quite 
strong, tending northward toward the 
straits, so that even when the wind fails 



8 



GOLD HUNTING 2N ALASKA. 



us we are drifting towards our destination 
at the rate of fifteen to twenty miles a day. 
On board we are all happy and in good 
spirits, notwithstanding the fact that some 
have never before known a hardship, and 
their eight hours watch per day on deck, 
especially when it is stormy, is calculated . 
to make them think longingly of their pleas- 
ant homes. Besides, many of tlie boys have 
salt water sores on their hands and. chil- 
blains on their feet. 

Yesterday the sea was choppy and sev- 
eral were sea-sick again. Even I felt that 
peculiar indescribable sensation, but I ate a 
hearty dinner of beans and salt pork and 
felt better. C. C. is suffering from what he 
declares is " indigestion " a 
weakness to which he has al- 
ways been subject. He feels 
a. reluctance to owning that he 
has the common ailment. 
" C. C." is our abbreviation for 
Reynolds, the undertaker and 
sometime preacher. He makes 
so much fun for other people 
that we cannot help amusing 
ourselves at his expense some- 
times. 

We passed St. Matthew 
Island and caught a glimpse of 
its rugged shores through the 
thick fog. We can generally 
tell the proximity of land by 
the increased number of sea-birds. It is not 
often that the sun appears now. but occa- 
sionally it shows itself long enough for the 
captain to take his observations. It is light 
all night and seems like a dream of child- 
hood to have to go to bed before the lamps 
are lighted. 

I must pay a compliment to our captain. 
Besides knowing his business thoroughly, he 
is a jolly, agreeable man, always cutting 
jokes except during a storm. He has been 
created the " Penelope's " laureate, and has 
written a couple of poems that would make 
good his rank anywhere. 

There was one day when we all had an 
attack of the poetic fever and wrote 
verses. They will be found in the ship's log. 

To-day is Sunday, and as usual we all at- 
tended services, which consist of songs and 
a short talk from C. J. The rest of the day 
is like any other. 

Last night an exhausted sandpiper flew on 
board and was caught. I was asleep and 
the boys came and laid it on my breast. He 
is now safely wrapped in cotton wadding 
and laid to rest in the aforementioned 



cracker-box. The boys declared they would 
whip me for not letting him go, and yet 
when they get a chance they shoot at birds 
from the boat for " sport," with no other 
purpose in view. I am doing my best to 
educate them in bird lore, but whenever I 
get off the long Latin names they give me 
the " ha-ha." By this time and after many 
lessons the most of them know a murre by 
sight, and a fork-tailed petrel, and a kitti- 
wake; but when it comes to distinguishing 
the different species of auklets at a distance 
they think I am fooling them, and laugh at 
me until I show them the bird at close 
range. I never realized before the vastness 
of the sea as when a solitary little bird dips 
his wings and flies skyward. 




J 



Becalmed in Bering Sea. 



CHAPTER II. 

UXE 1. Yesterday the fog 
cleared and disclosed to 
us the snowy peaks of the 
Siberian coast far to the north- 
west, and in front to the north 
of us the long coast line of St. 
Lawrence Island. We headed 
for the west end of the island, 
intending to pass up the chan- 
nel between it and the Si- 
berian coast. Saw two vessels 
in the distance returning from 
that direction. After we had beat against 
a bad w r ind all day we found ourselves 
almost surrounded by icebergs. With the 
field glass we could see the whole hori- 
zon a solid mass of ice. Our way was 
blocked. Turning eastward, we tried the 
passage between St. Lawrence Island and 
the Alaskan coast. The wind was blowing 
bitterly cold from the Siberian shore. Beat- 
ing eastward along the south side of the 
island, we have now left the ice behind. 
This afternoon a two-masted schooner spoke 
us on her way to try the passage we had 
just abandoned. She turned and sailed with 
us. She carried a pretty tough-looking 
crowd of miners. They, like ourselves, are 
bound for Kotzebue. We gave them the 
" Penelope " yell, which they returned with 
three cheers. In sizing up their piratical ap- 
pearance we forgot to look in the glass. 

June 25. Seventy-five miles southeast of 
Bering Strait. The Alaskan mainland north 
of Norton Sound in plain view. Have spent 
five days ttying to get around St. Lawrence. 
Are still in sight of the east end. It is calm. 



GOLD BUNTING JN ALASKA. 



We need more wind. Entered Bering Sea 
two weeks ago, and the days have been like 
a yachting cruise. Everyone is in good 
spirits. Several of the boys are \vitty and 
jokes fly. And the singing! we exhaust the 




Sighting a Vessel. 

words we know and then make up as we go 
along, like plantation negroes. Are playing 
several tournaments in games. Only one so 
far has been concluded the domino game. 
Dr. Coffin and Jett were the unlucky ones, 
and last night they entertained the crowd. 
Captain was master .of ceremonies and 
dressed in a most ludicrous manner. He 
made a mock speech and read a poem. The 
two unlucky victims were treated to burnt 
cork and wore great Eskimo muckluks 
(sealskin boots), miirre-skin hats, 
and red calico decorations. Doc- 
tor beat the big tin washpan and 
Jett blew the foghorn. The cap- 
tain's wand was a boat-hook with 
a shining red onion on the tip and 
bearing a red pasteboard banner 
with the motto, " On to Kotze- 
bue." They were to march fifty 
times around the deck. Casey, 
our Irishman, was appointed po- 
liceman by the captain " to keep 
the small boys and the carriages 
off the street." And so, to the 
tune of the foghorn and the dish- 
pan, they tramped their penalty. 
Then the captain gave an exhibition of clog 
dancing, with a fife and harmonica accom- 
paniment. So one can see there is always 
something going on to break the monotony 
and keep the blues away. We suffer little 
from dull times. W T hales are now as com- 



mon as seals. One we saw looked as large 
as the " Penelope." Clyde took its picture. 
I got out our Wincnester to-day. Am on the 
lookout for polar bears, which are expected 
to frequent the ice packs. The cook has just 
yelled " Supper!" and everyone is singing 
" Beulah Land." 

Arctic Ocean, July 7. The next morning 
after my last date we sailed to within a 
mile of King's Island. This is a precipitous 
point of rock scarcely a mile in diameter, 
and yet more than two hundred Indians live 
upon it. Before we were within three miles 
of the island the natives began to come 
alongside of the " Penelope " in their skin 
canoes, or kyaks, wanting to trade. These 
were the first natives we had seen, and our 
interest in them was unbounded. Fully fif- 
teen canoes, some singly, but mostly lashed 
together in pairs, reached us, and their occu- 
pants came on board with their sealskin 
bags full of articles to trade. They had a 
large quantity of walrus tusks, some of 
large size, weighing probably ten pounds, 
and very valuable. There were polar bear 
skins and fox skins beautifully tanned, also 
sealskin coats and muckluks (skin boots). 

They wanted in exchange clothes, flour, 
tobacco, knives, etc., and, if we had pre- 
pared ourselves, we could have obtained 
many valuable things. Most of us saved 
what things we had to trade with later on. 

Beyond King's Island our way was again 
blocked with ice. We then turned east 
towards Port Clarence, but in a couple of 
hours encountered the ice pack extending 




Natives of King's Island Coming to Trade. 

out full twenty miles from the Alaskan 
shore. We thought our way was blocked, 
but the captain thought we could keep along 
the shore ice, and did so, the passage open- 
ing as we advanced. After skirting the ice 
all day we entered the straits at midnight 



10 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



June 26, and found ourselves between the to be heading through a break in the shore 
Diomede Islands and Cape Prince of Wales, side of the ice, and we followed. Both boats 
Everyone was on deck enjoying the scene dropped anchor about a mile from the 



until 2 a. m. The sun loitered along the 
horizon four hours and at midnight barely 



Alaskan shore in shallow water, where the 
ice had left a clean anchorage. The 



disappeared. The clouds and water were " Acret " and " Penelope " were so far the 
gorgeously tinted in the manner so often de- first boats to pass through the straits, 
scribed by Arctic travelers. No words can We were all eager to land. As soon as the 
do the scene justice. To the right rose the dinky was overboard, tive of the boys, with 
mountains of Alaska, extending far back little thought for anyone else, as was quite 
from Cape Prince of Wales, the shores natural under the circumstances, jumped 
broken by their blue-tinted ice pack. Dark in and moved for shore. And what was ex- 
blue shadows stood the mountains out in asperating beyond description to us who 
beautiful distinctness. On our left were the were obliged to wait our turn, they did not 
precipitous Diomede Islands and Fairway bring the boat back for two hours. We have 
Rock, with the snowy mountains of the Si- forgiven them, but they'll have to pay for it. 



berian shore rising further in the distance. 

Ahead, our progress would soon be stopped 
by the long line of ice extending under the 
Arctic horizon, 
where the sun 
was vainly en- 
deavoring to set. 
Just at midnight 
a spot of blazing 
light appeared at 
Cape Prince of 
Wales, fully eight 
miles away. It 
was the reflection 
of the fiery red 




Nearing the Great Ice Pack. 



At 6 p. m., Dr. Coffin and I, and others, 
landed and started on our first tramp. Our 
feet were for the first time on Alaskan soil. 
But we saw none 
of the soil. Moss 
everywhere, and 
flowers and wild 
strawberries. It 
was a queer sen- 
sation to set one's 
feet down on 
what looked like 
substantial 
ground and sink 
a few inches to 



sun on the window of the mission which has solid ice, crushing the flowers beneath, 

been established at that point. These shores I was all eyes and ears for what new birds 

are not inviting, and yet we know that here might cross my path. Almost the first thing 

on this bleak coast are living, the whole year a flock of Emperor geese flew past me and 



through, American missionaries, whose pur- 
pose is as eternal as the icebergs. 



were out of range. These are the rarest 
geese in North America and found only in 



Everyone was happy and exerting himself Alaska. I saw but one land ,bird, a species 

to express what he felt. Some yelled wildly, of sparrow, but there were large numbers 

and, taking off their shoes and stockings, of water birds. I obtained some rare eggs, 

threw them into the ocean. Others sang such as phalarope, western sandpiper, etc. 

with might and main. " Beulah L?md " and A snowy owl was flushed, the first I ever 

" Nearer, My God. to Thee " were followed saw alive, and it was at once mobbed by a 

by " Yankee Doodle " and " My Country, dozen Arctic terns 'which had their nests 

'tis of Thee," with everybody dancing and near by. The laud here is low and rolling, 

running about like a lot of Indians. " Pen- with little knolls and lakes. The .ground in 

elope, Penelope, zip, boom, bah! Going up to places was thawed about a foot that is, tak- 

Kotzebue, rah! rah! rah!" was yelled till all ing the depth from the top of the spongy 

were hoarse. Finally, about 3 p. m., we be- moss. On the dryer knolls several kinds of 



gan to quiet down for a little sleep. 



flowers were blooming and the grass was 



In the night a small schooner like our own, luxuriant in places. I searched for insects, 



the " Acret," caught up with us. having 
found the passage we had followed. W T e 
passed through scattering ice and sailed 



but found only two bumblebees, which 
could not catch, having no net with me. 
W T e stayed on shore until midnight, tramp- 



about fifteen miles beyond the straits, but ing over the tundra and collecting birds and 



here were confronted by the solid ice pack 
of the Arctic which extended on all sides. 



eggs. At 1 a. m. rowed back to the schooner. 
A canoe load of Indians had come alongside, 



After sailing about in circles in this limited and they had one Emperor goose. I coveted 
area of water all day, the " Acret " was seen it. Tried to trade for it, offering several 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



11 



articles, but failed to offer the right thing. 
Afterwards one of the " Acret " men ob- 
tained it for an old tin tomato can. The 
" Acret " fellows had also been on shore and 
succeeded in shooting another goose, so they 
now had a pair of them, which they allowed 
me to have for the skinning, provided I re- 
turned the bodies in time for breakfast. I 
was happy. I immediately went to work, 
having the usual experience in skinning sea 
birds with the enormous amount of fat 
which must be peeled, rubbed, scraped and 
picked off. It took me until three o'clock in 
the morning, and I was then glad to crawl 
into my bunk for a little sleep. By night 
the next day the water seemed almost clear 
of ice, so we heaved anchor and started 
northeast along the shore towards Kotze- 
bue. Soon came to the ice again, scattered 
and in blocks. 
Keeping right on 
between the 
blocks, we came 
to a big, fatherly 
iceberg which 
had run aground. 
The water here 
was very shallow, 
and we. had to 
be careful not 
to run aground 
ourselves. The 
"Penelope" 
draws eleven feet 
of water, and a 
mile from shore 
it is often 

scarcely three fathoms, and of course shal- 
lower towards shore. 

It was very exciting sometimes when the 
ice blocks became too thick. And they 
choked and moaned and snored and heaved 
against each other in a fit of passion, and 
challenged one another to " come on/' and 
ground their teeth in rage, and swished 
calmly, and chuck-a-lucked through the 
water. It was a grand sight to remember. 

At times several of the boys had to take 
poles driftwood which we had taken posses- 
sion of for just such an emergency and. 
standing at the bow, push off the ice. Even 
then several of the larger blocks got the bet- 
ter of us and would stop our progress by a 
sturdy crunch against the " Penelope," 
scraping along her side and taunting her 
with piratical intention. But she was firm 
and answered not a word, giving only a few 
scales of her weather-beaten paint as a sort 
of peace-offering. 




Anchored to a Grounded Iceberg. 



The " Acret " was all the while accom- 
panying us, most of the time ahead, for she 
drew only eight feet, so she could sail nearer 
shore than we could, where the water was 
clearer of ice. We anchored two nights and 
a day, again sheltered behind a grounded 
iceberg. 

The " Acret " and " Penelope " were tied 
up side by side, and we exchanged calling 
courtesies. This crew was intending to 
prospect in couples, each two men having a 
boat. Each person was independent of any 
other man, unless they should choose to 
form partnership among themselves. That 
is, they were not formed into a regular com- 
pany as we were. We are no doubt better 
off individually as we are, though this re- 
mains to be proved. 

After spending several days slowly mak- 
ing our way 
along the Alas- 
kan coast to- 
wards Kotzebue, 
through the still 
breaking ice, on 
July 2 we found 
ourselves really 
in a dangerous 
position. The 
wind began to 
blow from out to 
sea, thus crowd- 
ing the ice to- 
wards shore, 
making our sail- 
ing quarters more 
and more limited. 

We were already running too close in, from 
two to three iathoms, when suddenly the 
schooner ran aground, and we found our- 
selves stuck on a sandy bottom, with the 
ice rapidly moving down on us. An anchor 
was quickly towed out and dropped, so that 
by heaving in on the .anchor chain the boat 
could be dragged out into deep water. This 
was slowly being accomplished, when a 
mass of ice too large to pole off caught 
against the schooner, causing a tremendous 
strain on the anchor chain. 

Another ice cake floated against the first, 
and the " Penelope " would have been 
crowded deeper and deeper aground had not, 
after much chopping and prying, a crack 
opened up across the ice on our port bow. 
The two pieces swung apart, leaving the 
" Penelope " free. Again we tried to heave 
into deeper water, and finally with all sails 
set and all hands pulling on the chain, the 
boat slid off in time to escape another big 



12 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



sheet of ice. Of course this was one of the 
few times we did not feel like shouting and 
singing. We held our breath. It was an 
unpleasant experience, but one upon which 
we can look back with a sort of quiet satis- 




Natives with Walrus-hide Canoe. 

faction. We shall at least have one hair- 
breadth escape to narrate to our friends at 
home. After dodging and threading our 
way, the captain finally sailed us into an 
open tract of water outside the ice. 

We have made little progress these last 
days. We have been sailing about in circles, 
at times coming within forty miles of Cape 
Blossom, but still blocked by the line of ice 
that closes the mouth of Kotzebue Sound. 
It is now rapidly breaking up and melting, 
and as soon as an off-shore wind sets in, the 
ice will be surely driven out to sea and our 
path will be clear. We are fifty days from 
San Francisco, and the majority of us are 
longing for land. Vessels are constantly 
coming in sight. 

Last night twelve vessels besides our own 
were seen waiting for the ice to open. 
What a mad rush this is to a land nobody 
knows anything about, and whose treasure- 
trove, if she holds any, is far in the in- 
terior! There is plenty of country, if not of 
gold, for us all, and we can take our 
chances. 

We have spoken the bark " Guardian " 
from Seattle with 130 on board. The bark- 
entine "Northern Light" from San Fran- 
cisco with 120 on board; the bark " Leslie 
D." with 58 on board, besides the " Cath- 
erine Sudden," and others whom we have 
not been near enough to speak. 

While we were near shore natives, Eski- 
mos, came on board in their skin canoes 



nearly every day, and often stayed several 
hours with us. Indeed they would remain 
with ns all the time if allowed to. They are 
very greasy and not at all desirable in their 
present condition, dressed entirely in skins, 
and owning few civilized 
implements. Some were on 
summer hunting trips from 
as far as the Diomede 
Islands and the opposite 
Siberian shore. We have 
made some fine trades with 
them. Rivers, one of the 
boys, got a good skin kyak 
for a pair of overalls, a 
match safe and a few other 
trinkets. I got some nice 
seal (not the fur seal) skins 
for an outing shirt, and 
about one hundred yards of 
strong raw-hide rope, for 
soiled socks, undershirts, 
etc. 

It is a good opportunity 
for obtaining spears, toys, 
implements, and clothing of Indian manu- 
facture, etc., if only I could spare the stuff 
to trade. With all the hundreds of people 
coming to the coast this year, the trade will 




Educated Natives. 

be spoiled by next year, or I would send 
home for a box of articles for trade. 

These natives really require very little 
outside of their own resources, so it is hard 
to tell what articles would be likely to strike 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



13 



their fancy. Lead, powder, tobacco, calico 
and clothes would be the best things. 

The prince or chief of this tribe of In- 
dians was an intelligent young man about 
twenty-five years old. He could not speak 
our language, but, strange to say, his wife, 
who accompanied him, was educated and 
refined. She had received some schooling at 
Tort Clarence. It was she who interpreted 
for all of us during our trading hours. 

The natives came in families, and the chil- 
dren were not uninteresting. Not a baby 
was heard to cry, although in the canoe for 
hours at a time, nor would they try to move. 
These canoes or kyaks are very strange 
boats, and prove quite treacherous to the 
novice. It looks easy rowing in one of 
them. I had learned the trick during my 
hunting about Sitka two years ago. and 
could not be induced to try my hand in a 
hurry. Not so Casey, who went out by him- 
self in Rivers' new kyak. He started out all 
right, shouting that it was like riding a 
bicycle, " very hard to keep balanced in." 
He was getting along finely, keeping near 
the vessel, when he grew over-conn" lent, and 
a misstroke with the paddle set him out of 
balance, and boat and poor Casey went roll- 
ing over together in the water. He struggled 
and kept to the surface long enough for a 
rope to be thrown out to him, but he could 
not get his legs out of the hole in the kyak 
for several seconds. Seconds are hours in 
this blistering ice-water, and had he been 
further from home he could not have sur- 
vived the chill. 

No one has tried kyaking since, but as soon 
as we reach shallow water I mean to prac- 
tice until I have revived the lost art. 

We are now inside the Arctic Circle, about 
07 degrees north latitude. That is pretty 
well north for Southern Californians who, 
at home, rub their ears when the frost nips 
the tomato plants in January. 



CHAPTER III. 

GAPE BLOSSOM, July 13, 1898. The 
voyage is behind us. What is floating 
ice to a ship's crew safe on shore! We 
can laugh at whales, and unfriendly breezes 
that whisper tales of shipwreck on barren 
coasts. And we can walk at all hours of the 
day and night without holding on to the rail, 
an.1 we don't have to cook breakfast and 
srpper and dinner in an 8 x 8 galley. Oh. 
the charm of being on land again, a land 
without visible limit; a land where we are 



not crowded, and where we are not hindered 
from our work by newspaper reporters! 

I am sitting at the camp-table in the diu- 
ing-tent near the new " Penelope " ship- 
yards, and the sounds that greet my ears 
are varied. The incessant pounding gives 
evidence of vigorous work on our river boat; 
the hum of the forge and the ring of the 
anvil where Casey and Stevenson are mak- 
ing fittings for the engine, the wash of the 
surf close at hand, and last, but not least, 
the low, irritating, depressing, measly whine 
of the mosquito this last word to mean the 
race. I would not intimate that there is one 
mosquito, or twenty; there are millions! We 
wear bobinet masks which protect our heads 
very well. To-night the wind is blowing 
fresh, and the winged plagues are using 
most of their force to keep their land legs. 
It is very warm, and a little exertion brings 
out a copious perspiration, but it is less 
fatiguing to keep hard at work with a will 
than to stop and think about it. No ice now 
in sight. Within two rods of camp is a deep 
snowdrift, where we obtain nice drinking 
water. Ice may be seen anywhere in Alaska 
all the hot days, but it is so mixed and 
grown in with the everlasting mosses that it 
is not fit to melt for drinking save in rare 
cases. Our ship-yards are located on the 
pebbly beach, and it all seems so roomy and 
clean after our long stay on the little 
" Penelope," though on account of the mos- 
quitoes we still sleep on shipboard. The 
boat is anchored a mile from shore on ac- 
count of the shallow water. As I look out to 
sea I bethink me that in all probability 
Ivotzebue, the Russian explorer, stood on 
this exact spot and looked about him as long 
ago as July, 181G. And the mosquitoes were 
biting him, too! 

I can afford to sleep only every other night 
these days. There will be time enough to 
sleep when the sun goes to bed. The land- 
scape is beautiful grassy meadows, green, 
bushy hillsides, and, over all, thousands of 
wild-flowers of a dozen kinds; dandelions, 
daisies, sweet-peas, and many other vari- 
eties. I have found a few beetles and have 
seen some butterflies, but get little time for 
collecting either insects or birds. My duty 
is to the company, and any time in which I 
may do what I love best to do must be 
taken out of my sleeping hours. Everyone 
is working with might and main, as the mis- 
sionaries tell us that winter sets in by the 
last of August. 

By the way, we surprised these mission- 
aries, who nave been located at Cape Bios- 



14 



GOLD HUNTING 



ALASKA. 



som some two years or more, and in that 
time have seen few fellow-countrymen. C. 
C. Reynolds and Clyde and Dr. Coffin were 
old acquaintances, and waked them up one 
day all of a sudden. The three were told by 
the natives of the best way to approach the 
mission building, and, as they did so, the 
first thing that met their eyes were little 
boxes of lettuce and radishes and onions set 
on the sunny side of the cabin to steal the 
brealh and smile of Old Sol, while he has his 
eye on the place. This is a Friends' Mission, 
and the three missionaries are from Whit- 
tier, California. 

They are Robert Samms and 'wife, and a 
Miss Hunnicut. 

The boys are working on the river boat in 




First "Friends"' Mission. 

two shifts from twelve to twelve. This 
makes time for four meals a day, the largest 
meals being at the two twelves, and I have 
one of these to get. I also have the 6 p. in. 
and the midnight meals to get; Shafer gets 
the others. Of course we have our assist- 
ants who wait on table and wash Wishes. 
Who would have thought I would become a 
mess cook! 

I have just dressed three salmon weighing 
about fifteen pounds each. We traded ten 
gingersnaps to an Indian for them. They 
will make fully two meals for all of us. 

July 16, 2 p. m. In the dining-tent at 
" Penelope " ship-yards. Yesterday was a 
great day for us. W T e received our first mail 
from home. The revenue cutter " Bear " 
brought it, and it will probably be our last. 
It is sweltering hot. We find our most con- 
genial employment in drinking ice-water and 
taking cold baths. And no one suffers from 
it. The river boat is nearly done and we 
have been here only a week. To-day our 



first prospecting party starts out, one of 
two, to go up the Kowak River in advance 
of the main party. They are taking a 
month's provisions, and, besides prospecting 
for gold, are to locate our winter quarters. 
We hope to make two trips with supplies up 
the river before it freezes. There are so 
many vessels of every description here that 
it looks like a seaport harbor. The natives 
are " catching on " to trading schemes, and 
are asking exorbitant prices for everything. 
W T e offered sixty dollars worth of flour and 
other things for a canoe and failed to get 
one. I doubt the things being of much use 
to us if \ve had them. The skins soak up 
water rapidly and are then easily torn or 
worn. The Indians keep them in water 
only a few hours at a time before 
taking them up on the beach and 
turning them over to dry. 

Shafer went with our first 
party as cook, and that leaves me 
with seventeen men to feed. I 
want to get in some collecting this 
fall and am willing to work hard 
now. Of. course everyone of the 
party is industrious; we expected 
to work. The mosquitoes do not 
like me and so I have the advan- 
tage of the others. I keep a 
smudge burning in the tents so 
the boys may eat in peace. 

Penelope Ship Yards, July 17. 
Oh, how hot it is to-day! And the 
mosquitoes are rushing business, as if aware 
time is nearly up with them. I slept on shore 
last night. We had a small tent and banked 
it up all around tight, and then made a 
smudge and shut ourselves in. We killed all 
the mosquitoes in sight and finally got to bed 
for a good seven hours' sleep. There is plenty 
of driftwood along the beaches, and we shall 
not be obliged to draw on our supply of coal 
for a good while. Several tons of it is com- 
ing on the " Mermaid." The vessel has not 
yet arrived, neither have several others 
whose crews warned us before we left San 
Francisco last spring that we would not 
reach Kotzebue this year. And here we are 
a week ahead of them, and one party pros- 
pecting up the river already. 

July 19. This morning the " Helen," as 
we have named our river boat, was towed 
out to the " Penelope," where the boiler and 
engines were hoisted on. She is back again 
now, and all is well save Rivers, who had 
his fingers smashed. 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



15 



There must be a thousand people now in 
the Sound, and more are coming. These 
first-comers are respectable men, with few 
exceptions. A drunken white man shot an 
Indian up near the mission, and now there 
will be trouble. The Indian law dates far 
back " An eye for an eye." A good many 
accidents are happening. Some men are lost, 
and so are whole loads of provisions. We 
are safe: have lost nothing. Birds are nu- 
merous now. I went up the slough last night 
and got three ducks. This noon I served up 
a hot -duck pie. This is 
the summer home for 
many birds that spend 
their winters south. 
Every morning I hear 
the plaintive song of 
the Ganibel's sparrows 
from the bushy thickets 
on the hillsides, just as 
we hear them from the 
hedges at home in win- 
ter. Other familiar 
birds now rearing their 
broods here are the 
barn swallow, Savan- 
nah sparrow and tree 
sparrow. Insects are 
common as the warm 
weather continues. I 
caught a bumblebee 
this morning and bot- 
tled him. As fast as 
the snowdrifts melt, 
grass and flowers 
spring up, crowding the 

snow, so to speak, into more and more lim- 
ited quarters, and finally replacing it alto- 
gether. The brightest and greenest spots 
are where the snow has the most recently 
disappeared. This is a beautiful country. 
Some day when the speedy airship shall 
make distance trivial, it will be a popular 
summer resort, except that the water is too 
icy for the average bather. 



CHAPTER IV. 

JULY 23, Penelope Ship Yards. The 
" Helen " is at last ready. Three of the 
boys have cut up several cords of wood 
into proper lengths for the boiler. 

I cannot help mentioning the flowers 
again. New kinds appear er.ch day without 
so much as sending up a leaf in advance. 
There are dandelions, and purple asters, and 
cream cups, and bluebells, and big daisies, 



and buttercups, and tall, blue flowers like 
our garden hyacinths. There are acres of 
blue-grass as smooth and green as if newly 
mown. Birds and bumblebees are abun- 
ant. I should like to collect more of these, 
but still have a hungry mob to feed. The 
boys are working hard at shifting the cargo, 
and chopping wood and doing other things, 
and of course are hungry as bears. My 
work gives me some half-hours which I 
spend collecting. We have good stores. For 
supper to-night my menu is baked navy 




Miners' Launch. 

beans Boston baked beans away up here at 
Kotzebue Sound! corn bread, apple sauce, 
fricasseed salmon eggs, fried salmon, duck 
stew, tea, etc. It will be appreciated to the 
last crumb by the Arctic circle. 

The days are growing shorter. The sun 
now sets before eleven* at night, leaving only 
a short semi-twilight. The doctor has just 
come in from a visit to the mission. He re- 
ports ships still arriving, and prospectors 
having all sorts of luck. Flour is three dol- 
lars for fifty pounds. Liquor is being sold 
to the natives without stint. It is against 
the law, but what is law without a force to 
back it? Dr. Sheldon Jackson is expected 
soon, and he is the man who will not be 
afraid to hunt out the rascals who are 
spoiling the natives. I am so nearly related 
to the American Indians myself that I nat- 
urally take sides with these natives. You 
know I was born on the Kiowa. Cornanche 
and Wichita reservation, when those Indians 



16 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



were savages or nearly so, and I learned to 
love them before I could speak. Here and 
now it is the old familiar story of the white 
man's abuse of the redskins. It makes me 
indignant. We found these people confiding, 
generous, helpful, simple-hearted, without a 
shadow of treachery except as they have 
learned it from the whites, who are invad- 
ing their homes and killing them as they 
will, with little or no excuse. Many of these 
gold-hunters that I hear of have already 
done more harm in a few days than the mis- 
sionaries can make up for in years. I could 
write the history in detail, but desist. It 
will never all be written or told. The natives 
are worked up to the last point of endur- 
ance and will surely kill the whites. Whisky 




The "Helen." 

is doing its share of havoc, although a few 
of the faithful mission Indians are trying to 
keep the others quiet. 

Sunday, July 24. We are now waiting for 
the tide to take the "Helen" out of the 
creek. Steam will soon be up. 

July 29, Dining Tent. We are still here 
and the rains have begun. The " Helen " 
made her trial trip and works well. We 
have discovered that she cannot transport 
all our goods up the river, so have delayed 
in order to build a barge. It is two feet 
deep, ten feet wide and eighteen feet long, 
with a capacity of ten tons. 

August 1. The storm washed the sand up 
and locked the " Helen " into Penelope in- 
let. The only thing to be done was to dig 
a channel and float her out. From ten in 
the morning until ten in the evening we 
worked. We had to pry her out as the tide 
kept falling. We could not have succeeded 
had it not been for some kind Indians who 
helped us. They are always ready to help 
when they see us in trouble. Of course we 
treated them to a good supper and they were 
happy. 



After steaming out to the " Penelope," we 
started north around the peninsula to the 
inlet, arriving about two in the morning, 
after the hardest day's work we have had 
yet. Here at Mission Inlet Dr. Coffin, 
Fancher and myself are left with the camp 
outfit and a load of provisions. After three 
hours' sleep and a hot breakfast the rest 
went back to the schooner with the 
" Helen " for another load, and to bring the 
barge, which by this time should be finished. 
Soon after they left, yesterday, a stiff breeze 
sprang up and we were very anxious. The 
" Helen " is little better than a flat-bottomed 
scow and cannot stand much of a sea. An 
inlet near us is, we think, deep enough to 
float the " Penelope," if we could get her in, 
and here she would be safe all winter. The 
missionaries tell us that no boat like her 
can stand the crushing ice in the open sea 
during the winter, and that this inlet is the 
only protected place for miles around. 

The mission and village are two miles west 
of us. There are four frame houses and a 
hundred tents. A Mr. Haines of San Fran- 
cisco, took supper with us last night and 
gave us the shipping news. Men are left 
with nothing save the clothes on their backs; 
others are drowned; many are homesick. 
Rumor reaches us that gold has been found 
on the Kowak. But rumor is not to be re- 
lied upon when it is gold that sets it afloat. 

If there is gold on the Kowak we shall 
find it. Our present care is to get our sup- 
plies up there in safety, but we are going 
at a slow pace. Six of our party are already 
up the river, six are on the " Helen " en 
route to the " Penelope " headquarters, two 
are at the ship-yards, and four are on the 
schooner. Dr. Coffin, Fancher and myself 
are here at Mission Inlet. This accounts for 
all of us as at present divided. We expect 
the return of the " Helen " to-night. 

We three have been living high since the 
others left. For supper, with the help of our 
San Francisco visitor, we got away with 
three ptarmigan, two curlew, twelve flap- 
jacks with sj r rup, stewed prunes, etc. After 
supper we went to sleep and did not awake 
until nine this morning, when we had ptar- 
migan broth, fried mush, ham and flapjacks. 
The other day we picked three quarts of 
salmon berries. They are very fine eating, 
something like a blackberry in size and 
shape, but are red like a raspberry and grow 
flat on the ground like a strawberry vine. 
They seem a combination of the three. 

Two other kinds, inferior to the salmon 
berries, also grow on the ground. We want 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



17 



to eat everything in sight. If there were 
rattlesnakes I believe that I should cook 
them. I have broiled a good fat rattlesnake 
when hunting in the Sierras, and found it a 
dish for an epicure that is, if the epicure 
happened not to see it until served. I put 
up nine bird-skins this morning. They are 
two redpolls, one Siberian yellow wagtail, 
three ptarmigan, one tree-sparrow and two 
curlew. I have put up seventy-five skins so 
far. I have also saved quite a number of 
insects, but these are scarce since the rains 
set in. Last night I heard the beautiful song 
of the fox-sparrow from a hill on the oppo- 
site side of the inlet. A raven, the 
first I have seen, flew high overhead 
with ominous croaks. " Evil omen," 
say the natives. 

Mission Inlet, Aug. 5, 1898. The 
" Helen " has returned after a peril- 
ous trip. She had the barge in tow 
and both were heavily loaded. It 
took ten hours to cover twelve miles, 
so rough was the sea. She ran 
aground twice, and the boys were in- 
deed " tired " on their arrival, but 
were wonderfully refreshed in a 
short time by flapjacks and bacon, 
which I served to them piping hot, 
after which they slept for eight 
hours. It has taken a good deal of 
hard work to get ready to make our 
start, and a good storm is in order. 
" Indian Tom " is guide, and he 
knows everything about the river and 
country. He says, "Wind too much; 
bimeby all right," and we take his advice. 
The " Helen " and the barge in tow are to 
carry two-thirds of the year's supplies up 
the river, and the " Helen " will alone re- 
turn for the rest. We cannot get the " Pen- 
elope " into Mission Inlet, as we hoped, 
hence it has been decided to leave the cap- 
tain and two men with her all winter. The 
provisions not needed this winter are stored 
on the schooner, and she will be anchored 
down in Escholtz Bay, in as sheltered a 
place as can be found, where she will freeze 
in. It looks dangerous, but it is our only 
alternative. It would not take much ice 
pressure to crush her, and then good-by to 
our provisions! They will try lifting her by 
windlass and other means, and the captain 
shows his pluck in the emergency. Pluck is 
what is needed in these Arctic regions, be- 
sides plenty of flapjacks. Jett and Pancher 
remain with the captain on the " Penelope." 
They hope to shoot polar bear and have 



other winter sport, but I guess they will 
have a monotonous time. Perhaps some of 
us will take a sledge journey down to them 
in winter. 

Dr. Coffin, Wyse, Rivers and myself are to 
stay here until the " Helen " returns for us 
and the remainder of the stuff. I always 
volunteer to stay at camp when a person is 
wanted, for in this way I get in some collect- 
ing. The rest don't see so much fun in stay- 
ing at camp. It may be two weeks before 
the boat gets back and, outside of my camp 
duties, I shall have considerable leisure for 
my favorite pastime. Doctor and I went 




Helen " and Crew Start up the Kowak River. 

out and got thirteen ducks, which made a 
good meal for the crowd before they started. 
We also had a large mess of stewed salmon 
berries which, though very tart, proved a 
most acceptable change from our dried fruit. 

Mission Inlet, Aug. 9. The " Helen " left 
for the Kowak yesterday and the weather 
has been perfect, so we hope she has safely 
crossed Holtham Inlet. Until she returns 
we four are to keep camp and finish up some 
work for the winter. We are becoming ac- 
quainted with the natives. Like those I 
knew in Dakota and the Indian Territory, 
they are very superstitious. They make us 
pass in front of a tent in which is a sick 
person, and if we are towing a boat past 
along the beach, we must get into the water 
and row around the camp so as not to walk 
past. Many of them are ill, and they lay it 
to the gold hunters; but it is really from ex- 
posure in following the whites around. The 



18 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



doctor has treated several, and if they re- 
cover he is "all right;" but if they die, it is 
his fault. Not so very unlike other folks! 
The doctor makes the natives pay for medi- 
cine, as this, he says, " is the better policy." 
He charged a salmon for some pills last 
night, and in another case where more ex- 
tended services were required, he charged a 
nickel and two salmon. He does not intend 
to infringe upon any existing fee bills in the 
States, but if any " medicos " thereabouts 
pine for a more profitable field, there is 
plenty of room at Kotzebue Sound. 

Some of the prospectors who went up the 
river earlier are now returning broken- 
hearted, and are going home. 

Mission Inlet, Aug. 11. The "Helen" 
came in last night with all safe aboard. 
They got about one hundred miles up the 
river, and concluded it better to get us all 
up that far before going on. We expect to 
start to-night. Our folks met two of our 
first prospecting party, who reported going 
as far as Fort Cosmos, three hundred miles 
up the Kowak, and who announced that 
place to be our best winter harbor. They 
had found some " colors," but nothing 
definite as to gold. 

This will prove my last entry on the Kot- 
zebue, but the winter's record will not be 
dull, I am thinking, by the time we thaw out 
in the spring of 1899. C. C. and the doctor, 
whose proclivities are well known to be of a 
semi-religious type, have a whole library of 
good books, such as " Helpful Thoughts," 
"The Greatest Thing in the World," Bible 
commentaries, and so on, with which we 
may enliven the winter evening that knows 
no cock-crowing. However, we shall have 
games and lighter reading. 

I have now more than one hundred bird- 
skins, some of them rare, such as Sabines' 
gull, Point Barrow gull, etc. I believe I am 
the only one of the party who could get the 
smallest satisfaction out of a possible disap- 
pointment as to gold. 



CHAPTER V. 

T>ENELOPE CAMP, Kowak River, Aug. 
J^ 28. Here we are, one hundred and sev- 
enty miles from the mouth of the Ko- 
wak River and hard at work on our winter 
cabin. The " Helen " is almost a failure, 
else we should have been much farther up 
the river. The river is swift and has many 
rapids which we could not stem. The boat 



is slow. Her wheel is too small. She will 
be remodeled this winter. It took five days 
to come this far, and, as there are two more 
loads to bring up, we thought it best to halt. 
We have been here a week and the walls of 
the cabin are nearly done, so that we are on 
the eve of owning a winter residence on the 
Kowak. We are expecting the " Helen " 
back soon with her second load. 

The Kowak River, though scarcely indi- 
cated on good-sized maps, is as large as the 
Missouri. At our camp it is nearly a mile 
across, and very deep on this side, with sand 
bars in the middle. Other folks are having 
a harder time than we. Only three out of 
the dozen or more river steamers are a suc- 
cess. One is fast on a sand bar, and it 
looks as if she would stay there. 

Some of our crowd think we had a hard 
time, but when we compare our lot with 
that of others we see it differently. Hun- 
dreds are toiling up in the rain, towing 
their loaded skiffs mile after mile along 
muddy banks. We have not had an accident 
worth mentioning unless it be the loss of a 
water pail. We took the wrong channel 
once coming up and steamed twenty-four 
hours up a branch river. It was the Squir- 
rel River, and although but a tributary to 
the Kowak, is as large as the Sacramento 
and San Joaquin combined. It was so very 
crooked that at one point where we stopped 
to wood up, I climbed a hill and could see 
its route for several miles. Our course went 
around the compass once and half way 
again. When we got back to the Kowak 
we made good time until we reached the 
first rapids, where our trouble began. The 
" Helen " would swing around and lose all 
she had made every few minutes when the 
current struck her broadside. Finally a 
squad of us took to the river bank with a 
long tow-rope, and foot by foot she was 
towed past the critical points. There were 
six of these rapids. When the wind blew 
there was fresh trouble; it would catch on 
the side of the " house " and blow the bout 
around in spite of us. She almost got away 
from us once, and we were in danger of 
being dragged off the bank, in spite of the 
fact that we dug our heels into the ground 
and braced with might and main. It was a 
tug of war. And such is gold hunting in the 
Far North! 

Many others had a still harder time. We 
passed thirty of these parties in one day 
towing their provisions, while many lost 
their J3oats. There must inevitably be great 
suffering here this winter. Men have not 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



19 




realized what a long winter it will be and 
are poorly provisioned. 

Our crowd is becoming a trifle disap- 
pointed as to the gold proposition, and of 
course the gen- 
eral discontent 

i s infectious. 

Hundreds are 

going back 

down the river 

every day, 

spreading defeat 

and failure in 

their path, and 

yet they have 

done no actual 

prospecti n g . 

This is a large 

country and a 

year is none too 

long to hunt; 

but with many 

parties the re- A Morning Hunt. 

suit is that after 

panning out a little sand the job is thrown 

up. 

Birds are all right here, if there isn't any 
gold. I have been into the woods only twice 
so far, but secured another rare specimen of 
Hennicott's Willow Warbler. There is a 
bear in the woods back of camp. 
I have " laid " for him three 
times, but he is very shy. 

Sept. 1. The " Helen " came 
with her last load yesterday, 
and our whole crowd is together 
again excepting the three men 
with the " Penelope." 

After a big pow-wow it has 
been decided to divide for the 
winter. Ten men are to take the 
" Helen," with supplies, and 
push up the river as far as pos- 
sible. They think they can do 
some mining during the winter. 
We who are destined to live to- 
gether here for eight months are 
Dr. Coffin, C. C. Reynolds. Harry 
Reynolds, Clyde Baldwin, Cox, 
Brown, Rivers, Wyse and myself. Time will 
prove if this is a congenial combination. We 
shall resemble California canned goods in 
our narrow limits, and the winter will show 
our " keeping qualities." Andy and Albert, 
our Swede sailors, leave us to-day. They 
were hired and do not belong to the com- 
pany, and will return to Kotzebue, where 
they hope to ship for St. Michaels. 



Camp Penelope, Kowak River. Sept. 13. 
Our cabin is done. It measures 25x30 feet. 
We moved in on the 7th. The river rose very 
high and threatened to inundate our tents. 
The place where they were is now under 
water. Our cabin roof was not a success. 
It was too flat. On the night we moved in it 
rained heavily, and about 2 a. m. we were 
roused by the water pouring in on our beds 
and our precious supplies. We got to work 
without delay. The roof could not be re- 
paired without rebuilding it, so we spread it 
all over with flies and tent cloth, which froze 
stiff for the winter, and now we are dry. 
When the cabin was started it was intended 
for our whole party, but there is no room 
to spare even now with only nine occupants. 
The foundation was leveled on the side of 
the knoll, so that the top of the hill is nearly 
as high as the roof and the earth is banked 
the rest of the way over the wall. That 
leaves no point for the north wind to strike 
the house. We made a lean-to on the west 
and the door from the cabin opens into it. 
We have two windows, which we brought 
with us, fitted on the south. The interior of 
the cabin is a single room seven feet high. 
It has a gable a foot or two higher, which 
gives " ample breathing space," as I told the 
boys, but which I have my eye on as a store- 




Our Winter Cabin. 

room for my collection. The roof above this 
structure is fearfully and wonderfully 
made. If it had a trifle more pitch to it, to 
make it shed water, it would be better. A 
heavy ridge-pole and stringers run length- 
wise, and over these are closely laid poles, 
the butts at the oaves along the sides, and 
the slender tops bent over and clinched on 
the opposite side of the roof. Above the 



20 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



poles is packed a thick layer of moss. Above 
the moss is a layer of heavy sod with the 
dirt side up. Above all is a layer of spruce 
boughs like shingles. These boughs grow 
thick and flat, with needles pointing the 
same way, so they make good roofing. 

The logs of the walls are chinked tightly 
with the moss. The floor is the natural 
sand. We did not cut the timber from near 
the house on account of the protection it 
gives us from the north winds. Trees large 
and long enough for building purposes are 
not very numerous, and we had to carry 
them a good ways. A few are as large as 
twenty inches at the butt, but mostly they 
are from ten to fifteen inches. It is all that 
eight of us can do to struggle along with 
one of these logs, they are so heavy, and we 




Start for the Hunt River, Towing our Boat. 

put them on rollers sometimes. Four of the 
men can easily carry one of the twenty-four 
foot logs, but a green spruce log of any size 
is always heavier than it looks. 

I have initiated " Brownie " into the secret 
mysteries of the cook stove, and am one of 
the regular laborers now, working hard ten 
hours a day. But yet it is fun; for we are 
working for ourselves, with but the clean 
woods all about us, and there is a fascina- 
tion in chopping up the spruces, their de- 
lightful fragrance permeating everywhere. 

Sept. 19. Six of us have just returned 
from a trip up the Hunt River Harry Rey- 
nolds, Wyse, Cox, Rivers, Clyde and myself. 
I was culinary officer as usual. We had 
the eighteen-foot sealing boat, and it was 
loaded pretty heavily. The whole of us had 
to work for it. one in the stern of the boat 
to steer, one wading at the tow-line as near 
the boat as possible, to lift it over snags, 



and the other four tugging at the tow-line. 
We wore hip boots and outside of them oil- 
skin trousers tied around the ankles. Even 
with this outfit we were constantly getting 
into the water all over. Rivers got a soak- 
ing the first day. He shot a duck and 
jumped out of the boat in pursuit. The bot- 
tom is so plain through the water that it is 
deceptive, and he went in up to his waist, 
but he grabbed the side of the boat to keep 
from going under. He got his duck and a 
ducking thrown in. We had to pull him in 
and to the shore, where we got him out of 
his wet clothes. In the afternoon Wyse also 
got a ducking by falling into a pool as he 
was scrambling up a steep bank. We found 
good camping-places. We had two tents, 
which we put up facing each other, with a 
flap left up on the side of one of them for a 
door. The two were heated by the sheet- 
iron camp-stove. At noon we did not put up 
the tents, but got dinner in the open flap- 
jacks, coffee and bacon. I shot two geese 
the first day out, which gave us a couple of 
meals. They were young and so fat I could 
not save their skins. But I made a drawing 
of one of them so that I could be positive of 
their identity. Looking them up when I got 
home where my books are, I found them to 
be the Hutch ins goose. The doctor and I 
shot two white-fronted geese on the banks 
of the Kowak. We see a good many, but 
they also see us and we have to do a good 
deal of sneaking through the bushes to get 
any. 

We had some narrow escapes, especially 
Cox, who fell into a whirlpool. He was 
dragged off his feet by the rushing water, 
but we pulled him into the boat after a 
frightful struggle. 

On the fourth day out Clyde and I thought 
we would explore a little canon. Harry 
Reynolds had washed out several pans of 
sand from different bars on the way up, but 
had not found a trace of gold. Clyde and I 
hoped to have better luck, and started out in 
high spirits with spade and pick and gold- 
pan to do our first prospecting. 

We found a brook in the canon where we 
panned some without success. Finally we 
found a place where the stream ran over 
bed-rock. The rock had cracks and fissures 
running crosswise with the stream, so w^e 
reasoned that if there was gold above, par- 
ticles would have been caught in these 
cracks. We dammed the brook and turned 
the stream to one side, exposing the fissures 
in the rock. We then gathered several pans 
of sand from the niches, examining it with 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



21 



wistful eyes, but no trace of gold did we 
find. So we gave it up on that stream. We 
found nothing save Fool's Gold. We kept on 
up the canon and, as it was yet early, de- 
cided to climb the mountain peak. As we 
went up the spruces grew smaller and 
finally disappeared. The sides were barren 
save for a thin covering of moss and lichens 
and patches of stunted huckleberry bushes. 
These bushes, not more than three or four 
inches high, bore hordes of luscious ripe 
huckleberries, and nearly every hundred 
feet in our climb we would drop on our 
knees on the soft moss and fill ourselves, so 
often could we find room for more. Another 
little black spicy berry growing in crannies 
was good. Just as we were toiling up the 
last slope a flock of twenty white ptarmigan 
flew up in front of us, and circled down to 
another ridge. They, too, had been feeding 
on the huckleberries. 

As we rested ourselves, sheltered in a niche 
of the summit crag safe from the chilling 
wind, a little red-backed mouse ran from a 
crevice and scampered through the moss 
straight to a huckleberry patch, his own 
winter garden. Clouds began to gather on 
the highest peaks, and we started down, leav- 
ing them behind. 

The moss was slippery and we found that 
we could slide down the steep pitches easier 
than we could walk or jump. I remembered 
seeing the little Sioux slide down the hills 
of Dakota in government skillets, and im- 
mediately sat down on my shovel, steering 
with the handle just as I had seen the In- 
dian boys do, and made terrific progress. I 
was soon able to pick myself up. feigning to 
examine a ledge of quartz while I rubbed 
my posterior, and looked back for Clyde. 

He tried sitting in the gold-pan and started 
all right, but soon found that he couldn't 
steer. He went at a frightful rate, tearing 
down the steep slide backwards, until he, 
too, found himself examining the geological 
strata while giving some attention to his 
anatomy. And then we had to hunt for the 
gold-pan which, from the musical sounds 
which grew fainter and fainter and finally 
died away altogether, must have got 
switched off into the bottomless abyss. Will 
it be found some day generations hence and 
borne off in triumph as proof of a prehistoric 
race? It was a race. Such is gold-hunting 
in far-away Alaska. 

At camp that evening we were joined by 
a native, " Charley," who told us by signs 
and by what few words he could speak, that 
he had come part way up the Hunt River 



behind us, but had left his birch-bark canoe 
several miles below, roaming off to hunt in 
the neighboring hills. 

He told us that he had shot a bear the 
day before and had cached it down the river, 
his boat being too small to take it. He 
wanted us to go and get it. Sure enough, a 
few miles down, we found the bear as 
Charley had said. It was all cut up, the skin 
being stretched on poles and fastened in a 
tree. The carcass was also divided and hid- 
den in a pole-box raised high on a slender 
scaffold. Charley had expected to come on 
his sled later on and take it home. After load- 
ing on this prize we continued down the 




We Receive Visitors. 

river, the Indian accompanying us in his 
canoe. The rapids were furious and many, 
and we shot them as if we had been behind 
a locomotive. It took a cool head to steer a 
boat under these conditions, and Cox did it. 
At one place the stream had washed under 
a bank above and trees had fallen over, 
making a complete set of rafters. The cur- 
rent rushed the boat under a series of these, 
like city roofs, and it kept us busy to duck 
our heads. 

We arrived home yesterday, making in 
seven hours a distance that had taken us 
three days to go up. Charley gave us bear 
meat to last a month. It tastes fishy, as the 
bears live mostly on salmon in summer, but 
it is a welcome addition to our larder. Dur- 
ing the trip I obtained two hawk owls and 
an Alaskan three-toed woodpecker, both 
species being new to my collection. 



CHAPTER VI. 

OCT. 15, 1898. In looking over my diary 
I find that I have recorded no " bad 
weather." This comes of my having in- 
herited a tendency to look on the bright side 



22 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 




of things. I hear such complaints as " bad 
weather," " disagreeable day," " awfully 
cold," etc. Days when some are grumbling 
about its being " too hot " or " too cold," 
" too wet " or " too windy," I find some 
special reason for thinking it very pleasant. 
It is no virtue of mine, as I said. It is 
natural. Up till to-day there has been warm 
weather mostly. Now there is a sudden 
drop in the temperature. Seven degrees 
above zero this morning. The north wind 
is blowing and makes one's ears tingle. All 
standing water is frozen and the Kowak has 
begun to show patches of ice floating down 
with the current. The great river is chok- 
ing. It is being filled with ice which can 
move but slowly, grinding and crunching 
and piling up into ridges where opposing 
fields meet. Suddenly it is at a standstill. 
In a day or two the 
ice will support us, 
as it does now on 
the margin. 

So quickly does 
the cold of winter 
close its grip. All 
these achievements 
of nature are new 
and interesting to 
me. I ran down to 
the river bank a 
dozen times to-day 
to note how the process is going on. It is very 
low now on account of the dry weather of 
the past weeks, but, as the choking goes on, 
a flow of water comes down from above 
over the ice, making a double fastness. The 
only fish that can survive will be those that 
seek the deeper places. There will be no 
more passing of boats. We hoar that the 
steamer " John Riley " has been left high 
and dry on a sand-bar, and has broken in 
two in the middle by her own weight. Two 
other boats are aground on sand-bars, and 
must be taken to pieces if ever rescued. 

Since the Hunt River trip I have been at 
home mostly. I have been cook, of course, 
a part of the time. There is no special work 
to be done outside. 

I have collected some birds, but they are 
growing very scarce. I went into the woods 
to-day for a couple of hours, and saw only 
two redpolls. 

Redpolls look and act very much like our 
goldfinches in the States. Rivers made me a 
bird-table. It is strange, but everybody de- 
clared they would " tire " me bodily if I con- 
tinued to skin birds on the dining-table; that 
is why Rivers took pity on me and made me 



The Wreck of the "John 
Riley." 



the finest table I could wish for, and a chair 
to match. 

We have the saw-mill. Dr. CofBn and 
Harry Cox, with the aid of others, ran that 
for several days, and enough boards were 
ripped out to cover the cabin floor, besides 
library and cupboard shelves. They declare 
" whipping " is hard work. I didn't try it 
myself, as I was cooking at the time. I pre- 
fer to run a cross-cut saw. The saw-mill 
worked "relays," working, five minutes, 
talking fifteen minutes, resting a half hour 
before the next took its place. Whip-sawing 
is an interesting process, especially to the 
man who stands below and looks up into the 
shower of sawdust. The doctor advised the 
plan of wearing snow-glasses, so that the 
sawdust difficulty was obviated, but the 
hard work was still there. The doctor tried 
his best 1o get me into the business, for he 
said it would surely tend to straighten my 
back, which stoops from constant skinning 
of birds at the table. He got such a " crick " 
in his back from whip-sawing that he could 
scarcely sleep for several nights. 

Besides the saw-mill, there was the fur- 
niture factory. C. C. and Harry Reynolds 
and Dr. Coffin were engaged in that enter- 
prise. As a result the cabin is supplied with 
double bedsteads, with spring-pole slats and 
mattresses. And there are lines of wooden 
pegs in the wall for hanging clothing, and 
carpets for the bed-rooms made of gimuy- 
sackiug stuffed with dry moss. 

A partial partition rims lengthwise of the 
cabin. At the kitchen end this partition is 
composed of a tier of wood, then an entrance 
space, and then a series of shelves from top 
to bottom for pantry, medical department 
and library, which latter is extensive. At 
the farther end is another open space com- 
municating with the " bed-rooms." The 
whole inside of the cabin is lined with white 
canvas tenting, which brightens us up ten 
times better than dark logs. On the south 
side of the partition is the " living-room," 
"dining-room" and "kitchen;" all in one 
apartment to be sure, but yet with their 
recognized limits. On the north side of the 
partition is the bed-room. There are three 
double beds and three single ones, according 
to the wishes of the occupants. A pole rims 
crosswise of the apartment, and on each 
side of this is a line of pegs hung full of 
clothes. This forms a wall dividing the 
apartment into " bed-rooms." Carpeted 
alleys run between the beds, and the walls 
are hung with clothing. What we are to do 
with all this clothing I do not know. 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



23 



Oct. 21. Just through supper and every- 
one has settled down to read, excepting sev- 
eral who have gone out to "'call at the 




Our Sitting-room. 

neighbors'." C. C. Reynolds, our president, 
undertaker, preacher, all-around-man, has 
taken to cooking. He started in well. For 
supper he gave us some fine tarts. I am 
glad to be relieved from the cooking, and 
do not intend to engage in the business 
again. We shall see. 

1 am skinning mice now, little red-backed 
fellows which swarm in the woods and 
around the houses. I set my traps every 
night. This morning I had a dozen. Wol- 
verines and foxes are common about here, 
but they are too cute for me and decline to 
be caught in the steel traps which I keep 
constantly set for them. An Indian shot two 
deer in the mountains and brought them to 
the village. The doctor traded for some 
venison, which is better than the bear meat, 
though I have no craving for either. The 
boys think me a baby because I prefer 
" mush " to meat. 

Last Sunday the temperature fell to even 
zero. The trees were heavily covered with 
hoar frost, and the scene, as the sun rose 
upon it, was magnificent. 

Everything is frozen solid. The river has 
nearly a foot of ice already. The natives 
are fishing through the ice and their 
methods are very novel to me. They select 
a narrow place in the river, and through 



holes cut in the ice they stick spruce poles 
with the branches left on, so that a fence is 
formed across the river between the surface 
and the bed. At intervals openings are left, 
and across these openings nets are stretched. 
The fish are coming down the river at this 
time in the year, and when they reach one 
of these fences they swim along until they 
come to one of the openings, when they are 
caught in the net. An Indian woman lies on 
the ice face down, all covered over tight 
above with brush and tent cloth, so she can 
watch when the fish get into the net. Be- 
sides netting them this way, the natives 
have baited lines laid for the larger fish. 
Hooks are not used, but the bait, a small 
fish for instance, is tied to the end of a 
string, and with it a short, slender stick. 
A large fish swallows the bait and the stick 
with it. When the fish starts away the line 
is jerked taut, and the stick turns crosswise 
in his stomach, and holds the game secure 
until drawn up through the hole in the ice. 
Several of us were over watching the In- 
dians fishing yesterday and were examining 
some of the fish. I picked one up in my 
innocence, but was commanded to put it 
down. The women were very much vexed 
with me, and were careful to place the fish 
exactly the way it was. Clyde came with 
his camera to take some photographs, but 
the natives considered it " bad luck," and 




Our Kitchen. 

he was remonstrated with vehemently, and 

finally went away, dallying until he had 

taken a shot or two. These women will 



24 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



have their hands full with us boys before 
the winter is over, I fear. 

The natives will not dress any deer skins 
until the snow comes, " so that game will be 
plenty " this winter. I am at work upon a 
small vocabulary of the Eskimo language, 
and already have two hundred words. The 
language has many guttural sounds, and is 
hard to express with letters, but I am learn- 
ing it rapidly, and getting the words written 
as accurately as possible under difficulties. 

One of the Indian boys, Lyabukh, is very 
bright, and understands what I want. He 
is leaguing English very fast. 

Our preacher holds services regularly 




Come to Church. 

every Sunday, and we go out to gather in all 
the Indians of the village and the white men 
in the vicinity. Four parties of three white 
men each, have put up winter quarters 
within a mile of us, so we have quite a com- 
munity. Besides these, there are some 
twenty prospectors six miles below us and 
five above us. All have built snug winter 
cabins. About a mile above us, back in the 
woods, twenty Eskimos have established 
their village for the winter, and built their 
dug-outs, or igloos. There is seldom an hour 
in the day when two or more natives are not 
in our cabin, and, with a little encourage- 
ment, such as C. C., with his missionary in- 
stincts, gives them, they have become very 
persistent visitors. 

Last Sunday services were largely at- 
tended, there being fifteen natives, and ten 
of our white neighbors. It was proposed, and 
unanimously carried, that a church be con- 
structed by this community. So Monday, 
Tuesday and Wednesday over a dozen men 
were at work on the new chapel, which is lo- 



cated back in a sheltered place in the woods. 
It is now finished except the fireplace, and 
will serve as a church, school-room, and lec- 
ture-room or town hall. 

Several of us are going to start a school 
for the Eskimo children in the neighbor- 
hood. We have seven months before us to 
occupy in some manner, and why not this? 
It would be monotonous to be continuously 
biting off northern zephyrs, and pulling the 
threads out of a tangled beard, and rubbing 
one's ears, and eating baking-powder bis- 
cuit; biscuit that are none of your light, 
fluffy things that have no backbone to them, 
but something that will stay with you on a 
hunt or a tramp with the tempera- 
ture below the counting mark. 
Then there are the nice fat sides 
of bacon carefully preserved " the 
white man's buffalo meat," as the 
Sioux Indians used to call it. We 
have ordinary fried bacon, and 
hashed bacon, and pork chops. 
When it is dreadfully cold and it 
doesn't slice readily, we chop it up 
with the axe and then it is we 
have pork chops! 

For variety's sake, if for nothing 
else, we would all vote the 
" school." Our life on the Kowak 
will not be a sealed book never to 
be read again when once the 
springtime lays it away on the 
shelf. We shall take it down and 
peruse it and possibly make mar- 
ginal entries in it when we are too old to do 
anything else. Sitting in the chimney corner 
toothless, and feeble of gait, it will give us 
pleasure to remember the " school " in the 
woods, on the banks of the mighty Kowak. 



CHAPTER VII. 

OCT. 30. Returned last night from a six 
days' trip up Hunt River. Clyde and 
I started together with the expectation 
of getting far into the mountain ranges. As 
has been my custom from a small boy when 
starting on a trip, I made big preparations, 
much bigger than necessary. We had grub 
enough for two weeks. The boys expected 
great things on our return bear, deer and 
other game, all of which was confidently 
promised. But to tell the honest truth, I 
wanted to get some chickadees and butcher 
birds. To carry our voluminous outfit we 
appropriated a sled belonging to a neighbor- 
ing Indian who had gone fishing. These na- 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



25 



tive sleds are very light, having birch run- 
ners, and slender spruce frame-work, the 
whole strongly lashed together with raw- 
hide thongs. Every morning before loading 
we poured water on the runners, thus form- 
ing an ice shoe. As yet there is no snow, 
so that our route necessarily lay along the 
frozen river, which was covered with a foot 
of ice. Our load weighed about three hun- 
dred pounds, and where the ice was smooth 
little exertion was needed to draw the sled 
as fast as we could walk. In some places 
sand had blown into the ice and such spots 
would give us hard work. We wore 
" creepers " on our heavy boots that is, a 
kind of conical pointed spike, screwed into 
the bottoms, three into the heel and four 
into the sole of the shoe. With these we can 
walk anywhere up or down upon the ice 
without slipping. In traveling, one of us 
pulled the sled, with the rope over his shoul- 
der, while the other pushed. Across the rear 
of the sled were two sticks projecting back- 
wards and upwards, with a cross-piece to 
push against, baby-carriage fashion. - 

The first day we made rapid progress, 
making twenty-five miles. W T e camped at 
night not far from the first foot-hills. The 
tent was raised in a grove of cottonwoods 
near the river, and soon a fire roared in the 
camp stove. When I had the fire well 
started, I went down to get a pail of water. 
I walked to the middle of the creek and be- 
gan to chop hard where I thought the ice 
was thinnest. Sure enough I had judged 
correctly, for with the second stroke the ice 
gave way under me, and down I went to the 
arm-pits in the icy water. I had fallen 
through an air hole. Luckily the ice all 
around was firm, so that I could raise myself 
up and wriggle out, or else my bath might 
have been continued. As it was, before I 
could reach the tent my clothes were frozen 
stiff. The temperature was below zero. 

Fortunately for me I had a warm tent and 
a change of clothes to go to. Meanwhile 
Clyde had cut a big pile of wood and soon 
we were wrestling with piles of flapjacks. 

After supper I had another experience 
with the ice. Forgetting that I had ex- 
changed my wet boots for a pair of shoes 
without creepers in them, I started to go 
across the river. ' After the first ice had 
formed the river had fallen, and now the ice 
sagged downward from the banks towards 
the middle, hammock-wise. As soon as I 
stepped on the ice my feet flew out from 
under me and down I slid. I got up. no 
worse for wear, but with a sudden recollec- 



tion that I had no creepers on. I cautiously 
started to walk to the bank, but on account 
of the slant of the slippery ice, I could 
make little headway before slipping back. 
I was in a similiar position to that of a 
mouse in a tin basin. Finally by walking 
down the river a short distance, I pulled 
myself up by an overhanging willow. 

Next morning at sunrise eight o'clock 
we started on up the river. Soon we came 
to long stretches of open water where the 
stream had been too swift to freeze over. 
In several places the icy margin was so nar- 
row that it afforded room for but one run- 
ner on the ice, and we had to drag the sled 
over pebbles and sand. 

Owing to the fact that the stream became 
swifter the further we went, we turned 
about and started back with a view to mak- 




Native Method ot Piling Winter Wood. 

ing camp among the willows down the river, 
where we had seen the most birds on the 
way up. 

Clyde shot twice with his rifle at a red fox. 
but missed it. He got " rattled," as one 
usually does when shooting at game, and 
as I have seen good hunters do. He tried a 
target at the same distance as the fox had 
been and hit the bull's-eye squarely. 

We got down to the willows late in the 
evening, but in time to select a sheltered 
place for the tent before' dark. While I 
cooked the supper Clyde gathered a large 
stack of hay for our bed. In a swale near 
by the finest kind of red-top hay, all cured, 
stood waist deep. Here, among the willows. 
eight miles from Camp Penelope, we re- 
mained for four nights. There were a good 
many fox and wolf tracks in the sand, and 
I had my traps set all the time, but without 



26 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



success. However, I obtained a mouse new 
to me the lemming. Clyde tramped through 
the country toward the mountains, but saw 
nothing of importance. He fished and 
brought back three grayling. I paid my re- 
spects to the small birds and secured four 
rare chickadees, besides several redpolls, 
pine grosbeaks, Alaskan jay, grouse, ptar- 
migan, etc. I had bad luck with ptarmigan. 
I missed seven good shots for some reason. 
The ptarmigan are now clothed in very 
thick winter plumage, which may account 
for it in part. 

I secured five. They are pure, spotless 
white with black tails. They are very con- 
spicuous now, until the snow conies, and 
they seem to realize it, for they are ex- 
tremely shy. They remain in flocks in the 
willow thickets. In the middle of the day 
they may be found dusting themselves on 
the' sunny side of the river banks among the 
willows. Their tracks are everywhere. Al- 
though there is no snow on the ground, in 
many places there is a thick layer of hoar 
frost on the sand and grass, and tracks of 
any bird or animal are easily seen. 

The days have grown very short now. We 
would have to light our candle by half-past 
four, and soon we would begin to yawn, 
and by six we would go to sleep, not to get 
up again until eight the next morning; and 
even then it is with reluctance, on account 
of the cold. The tent was easy to keep com- 
fortably warm on the inside as long as the 
tire burned in the stove, but in an hour after 
the fire went out it was as cold inside as it 
was outside. Clyde and I slept on the hay 
with two pairs of blankets under us, and 
two pairs over us, and a large canvas sheet 
outside of the blankets well tucked in. And 
the blankets were no common ones. They 
were made for the Arctic trade, and were as 
thick as an ordinary comforter. And then 
we wore all our clothes. Each had on three 
pairs of heavy wool socks, a hood and mit- 
tens. 

In the morning the edges of the blankets 
were faced with ice from our breath, and 
the inside of the tent sparkled with a beauty 
I cannot describe. It was fourteen degrees 
below zero the last morning, and the boys 
at home declared we got " frozen out," the 
reason we returned so soon. When they 
found out that we did not go even to the foot 
of the mountains, but had camped all that 
time in the willows just across the river, 
they ridiculed us unmercifully, especially 
tin 1 doctor. But I'll be even witli him some 
bright Arctic day. He even insinuated that 



I went on that trip just to be able to cook as 
much mush as I wanted to eat. I will ad- 
mit that mush was a very agreeable feature 
of the trip. 

I really obtained what I went for the 
chickadees. I have tramped with a burro 
(a California donkey), a canoe, and at last 
with a sled, and I must say that the sled is 
preferable when one has a level surface to 
travel over. 

\Y( haci carried grub for two weeks, a 
7 x 10 tent, camp stove and three lengths of 
pipe, four pairs of blankets, tent fly, sailor 
bag full of clothing, ax, hatchet, camera, 
two guns, traps, etc. I think I will make an- 
other trip soon if the weather remains clear. 

Nov. 7. A week ago Dr. Coffin, Clyde and 
Rivers, with a Dr. Gleaves of the Hanson 
Camp below us, started up the Kowak to 
visit the other section of our company about 
one hundred and fifty miles north, and to 
find out all the news of interest along the 
route. They walked, carrying food, abun- 
dant clothing, and camping tools, on a sled. 
They hope to make the round trip in three 
weeks I had intended to make the trip with 
them, but have not yet put up all the birds 
in my possession, and must work on them. 
We are a small family now. only six. C. C. 
still cooks, and I am willing he should con- 
tinue the good work. He makes i>ies and 
cakes almost " as good as mother used to 
make," and fine yeast bread. 

A clamp, raw east wind makes it bitterly 
cold to-day. At daylight this morning I 
went across the river to the willows for a 
couple of hours. It was six degrees below 
zero when I started, and I wore only a thin 
hood and mittens and a canvas jumper. By 
the time I got well across I felt nearly 
frozen, and as soon as possible I built a fire. 
My nose was frost-bitten before I knew it. 
I shot a ptarmigan and two redpolls before 
returning. 

Chenetto, one of our native neighbors, 
trapped a big gray wolf, a white fox and a 
red fox last week, i have tried to trade for 
them, but the natives say they need them 
for clothing; and they very plainly do, for 
these are the poorest Indians we have met. 
I regret our opportunity for trading down 
at Cape Prince of Wales. We expected the 
same advantage in Kotzebue, but are disap- 
pointed. One or two of our company keep 
an eye on special bargains and appropriate 
them. 

Last week a German called at every camp 
on the Kowak working up a " winter mail 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



. 27 



route." He had skated up from the mouth 
of the river, and proposed to take letters 
down to Cape Blossom for one dollar each. 
A reindeer team is expected there from St. 
Michaels in December which will bring in or 
carry back any mail. He is called " The Fly- 
ing Dutchman." 

Another man from up the river came down 
yesterday on me 
same business, " 
proposing further 
to take mail him- 
self to St. Mi- 
chaels. Some of 
our Iowa neigh- 
bors warned us 
of him as a pos- 
sible " c r o o k." 
He claims to 
have seven hun- 
dred letters prom- 
ised at one dollar 
each. One meets 
all kinds of peo- 
ple in this deso- 
late country, and 
even the face of 
a " crook " is not 
rare. 

Schemers are 
trying various 




The " Flying Dutchman." 



ways to get money. The gold proposition 
here is an entire failure so far, and the 
stories published are no better than " made 
up on purpose." It is supposed they were 
constructed by the transportation com- 
panies, and surely these have reaped a 
harvest this year. A thousand men are 
in winter quarters in the Kotzebue region, 
besides the many who went back the 
last thing in the fall. Hundreds of thou- 
sands of dollars were expended by parties 
coming here, and nothing is taken out; all 
of that money going to the transportation 
companies and merchants of San Francisco 

and Seattle. The H crowd alone, who 

are camped five miles below us, paid 
$31,000 for their outfit, including sailing ves- 
sel and river steamer. Part of this company 
got " cold feet " and went back, and the re- 
mainder have tons of provisions here to dis- 
pose of. They cannot get it into the interior 
to the Klondike regions, and so they will 
have to transport it all back down the river 
and so on to San Francisco, unless they can 
dispose of it on the way. which is not likely. 
It is strange how many fools were started 
to this country by bogus reports in the news- 
papers. Each party thought itself about the 



only one coming up here, and, what is most 
amusing, many of them had a " sure thing." 
Several parties whom we know of paid 
someone for a " tip " as to the exact place 
where the gold was waiting for the lucky 
man to pick it up. When they arrived at the 
Sound they rushed as soon as their feet 
could carry them, to take possession of their 
promised gold, only to find that they had 
been duped. They returned with righteous 
indignation burning in their bosoms, and to 
this day and for all time to come, justice is 
in hiding for the scoundrels, if they are 
found. 

This country may possibly have gold in it, 
for I know that it has not been prospected 
as it should. Men pan out on a sand-bar 
of a river here and there and are discour- 
aged at finding nothing. And moreover they 
will not do another stroke of work, but 
either return to the States, or camp some- 
where waiting for " another man " to sink 
shafts and do what we know is real pros- 
pecting. 1 should not be surprised if three- 
fourths of the people on this river are idle, 
waiting for the others to dig. I know that 
our camp has done practically nothing, as 
may be seen from the reports which I have 
made, when I myself was supposed to be 
one of the prospectors. We are all equally 
guilty. It seems that people expected to 
find mines all ready to work, and, since none 
are visible, sit down and give it up. Our 
company, as well as many another, is some- 
thing of a farce when it comes to being a 
" mining" company." We are doing nothing. 
It seems that when the gold fever takes hold 
of a man it deprives him of a fair propor- 
tion of his reason. But it cannot be denied 
that we are getting experience. Who would 
not be a miner under such comfortable cir- 
cumstances as ours? Meanwhile I am skin- 
ing mice and chickadees. I am doing ex- 
actly what I want to do, and w r ork here is 
original work of which I -shall be glad in 
time to come. I would be nowhere else in 
the world than right here now. One cannot 
take a stroll in the Arctics every day. I am 
resolved to remain as long as I can and im- 
prove my opportunities. If the company dis- 
bands I shall slay with the missionaries. I 
do not know what this gold-hunting expe- 
dition came up here for unless to accommo- 
date me. unintentionally of course. Every- 
thing delights me, from the hoar frost on 
my somewhat scanty though growing beard, 
to the ice-locked Kowak and its border of 
silver-laden spruces. And the ptarmigans ! 
What beautiful birds! part and parcel in 



28 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



color and endurance of this frozen world. 
And the winter is not half over. What rev- 




In the Spruce Woods. 

elations when spring knocks at the barred 
doors! How alert the awakening landscape 
I can as yet only partially realize. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

pOV. 12, 7 o'clock a. m. Great excite- 
ment prevails. The " Flying Dutch- 
man " returned down the Kowak last 
night. He is the German who passed on 
about twelve days ago to learn all the news 
and gather mail. tLe brings us good news, 
such news as makes the heart of a gold- 
hunter in the Arctics palpitate with emotion. 
He met a man above the Par River, one 
hundred and seventy-five miles east of us, 
who had just come over from the head 
waters of the Koyukuk River to get a sled- 
load of provisions. This man reported that 
gold in large quantities had been found on 
a branch of the Koyukuk near the head of 
this river, and that he and others had staked 



out rich claims. The " Flying Dutchman " 
also reported that six of our boys from the 
upper Penelope Camp had already started 
with sleds for that region, and that Dr. 
Coffin had reached the Penelope Camp in 
safety and was now on his way back to give 
us the news. We expect his party to-night. 
This news, if true, changes the whole aspect 
of things. We have heretofore had no as- 
surance that gold had been found in this 
country, and we believed ourselves to be the 
victims of " fake " stories.' What a change 
of feeling in our camp! Although this re- 
port may also be a fake, we will enjoy these 
happy expectations until further develop- 
ments. One thing is true, and that is that 
our boys- above here have started a party 
to the head of the Koyukuk, and must have 
learned something favorable. When the 
doctor and the rest get back to-night we 
shall certainly know all about it. 

It was just a day or two ago that I was 
writing a discouraging entry. So hope fol- 
lows despair, and again despair may follow 
on the heels of hope, with gold-hunters. 

We have two sleds now nearly finished, so 
that if the doctor confirms the news, we 
will be ready to start immediately for the 
Koyukuk in the teeth of an Arctic winter. 
Let it growl! What care gold-hunters for 
old Boreas? We are in high spirits. Last 
night we had what is denominated with us 
"a high old time." We yelled, and danced, 
and sang impromptu songs, such as the fol- 
lowing, which needs the camp conditions to 
give it the true ring: 

The Flying Dutchman came round the bend, 

Good-by, old Kowak, good-by ; 
Shouting the news to all the men, 

Good-by. old Kowak, good-by. 
Gold is found on the Koyukuk, 
The people here will be piechuck (Eskimo 

for " gone "). 

The " Penelope " gang have made a sleigh, 
And part are now upon the way. 
If you get there before I do, 
Stake a claim there for me, too. 
We'll start right now with spade and shovel, 
And dig out gold to beat the devil. 

This immortal song proves that we are a 
lively crowd. With the banjo and autoharp 
as accompaniment, we demonstrate a " good 
time " while we feel like it. 

Meanwhile, 'until further news, we shall 
continue to get ready between the songs. 
Brown and I and the two Harrys are mak- 
ing a sled. 




GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



29 



II 

I 



Last Sunday we had a good-sized congre- 
gation for morning " services." Twenty-five 
white men were present, but only a few na- 
tives. We were wondering why the Eski- 
mos were not coming, and Harry Reynolds 
went up to the village to see. He found 
them all playing poker. Harry finally per- 
suaded two men to come, after they had won 
all the stakes. The rest kept on playing. 
Natives who cannot speak a word of 
English and very few can know how to 
play cards, and can read the numbers in 
their own language and count up faster 
than we. They play for lead, cartridges, 
tobacco, etc., but the stakes are never very 
large, owing to their limited means- Yester- 
day our cabin was full of 
Eskimos all day. 

A couple of young men 
got hold of our croconole 
board, starting in at ten 
in the morning and play- 
ing without a stop until 
ten at night. And they 
can play well, too; better 
than we can. We found 
that they were playing 
for tobacco, and that in 
the house of a half-way 
missionary outfit who 
have just completed a 
chapel for the regenera- 
tion of the natives! A 
previously-prepared quid 
of tobacco, which may 
have done service as the 
stake for other games in 
the past, was enjoyed by 
the winner 01 each game, until he in turn 
was defeated, when the quid reverted to the 
original winner, and so on back and forth 
all day. 

The Indians seldom spit out the tobacco 
juice, but swallow it. They seem to have 
cast-iron stomachs. When they smoke, they 
draw the smoke into^their lungs and retain 
it several seconds before exhaling. I have 
many times watched an Indian inhale a 
great puff of smoke, but I have never seen it 
return again. Whether they swallow it, as 
they seem to do, or what becomes of it, I do 
not know. The women and even little chil- 
dren all smoke. I saw a funny sight last 
summer down near the Mission, and only 
regret that the camera was not along. A 
little " kid " about four years old, without a 
stitch of clothing on, except an officer's old 
cap, was strutting around the camp with an 
immense corn-cob pipe in his mouth, and he 



knew how to smoke, too. The question is, 
\vhere did he get the pipe? 

At noon yesterday there were six or eight 
Eskimo men and one woman sitting around 
in the cabin, and as usual at mealtime C. C. 
gave them something to eat. Among the 
other viands were some beans and a bowl of 
gravy. This gravy had been made from the 
juice of fried bear meat, but it did not have 
a shred of the meat in it. C. C. passed 
around this varied mess in bowls to the na- 
tives. They began to eat with relish, when 
one of the men suddenly demanded of C. C. 
in a stern voice whether there was any bear 
in the " cow-cow " (food). 

C. C. said at first there was not, but the 




Native Visitors. 

Indian tasted it again and looked sus- 
piciously at C. C., who suddenly remembered 
the bear juice and admitted there was " a 
little." The woman at once threw down her 
food and the men fell to talking earnestly. 
They said that bear meat would kill a 
woman if she ate it, but it was perfectly 
safe for men. It is awful to think of; how 
we might have been held up for murder in 
that desolate land, and hung by a rawhide 
rope to the dome of the Arctic Circle. It is 
a fact that this woman died two weeks af- 
terward. The natives hold many supersti- 
tions as to when and what to eat. No In- 
dian woman was allowed to do any sewing 
in the village yesterday because there was a 
man very sick in one of the igloos. Should 
they dare to sew it might cause his death. 

It is half-past seven now, and C. C. has 
got up and is starting the breakfast. It is 
beginning to be quite light outside and I will 



30 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



go out and examine my traps before break- 
fast. 

Sunday, Nov. 13. The wind has blown 
from the north constantly for two clays and 
is increasing. The doctor and the boys are 
not back either, so they must have stopped 
at some camp on the way down. They are 
wise to do that. I went out on the river 
awhile this evening, and could scarcely 
stand up against the wind. And the sand 
was blowing in clouds across the ice from 
the opposite side of the river. It has been 
at even zero all day. In spite of the bad 
weather there was a large attendance at 




Entrance to Native Igloo. 

church this morning, there being thirty-two 
white men present. There were two from 
" Ambler City," thirty-six miles up the 
Kowak, and two or three from the Jesse 
Lou Camp twelve miles below us, while 
nearly all the Hanson boys came up. Those 
from up the river came down on skates yes- 
terday and spent the night at the Guardian 
Camp, four miles above us. They had seen 
nothing of the doctor and his party. Ser- 
vices were held in the new chapel for the 
first time. And it was a great success; the 
chapel, I mean. The room was comfortably 
filled and w r as quite warm. A great blazing 
fire in the stone fireplace on one side made 
it cheerfully warm, and a great square 
opening in the roof, covered with an almost 
transparent walrus gut skin, admitted 
plenty of light. The service consisted 
mainly of familiar hymns, accompanied by 
the orchestra. The orchestra consists of the 
autoharp, played by C. C., the clarionet by 
Lyman of the Iowa Camp, the banjo by 



Harry Reynolds, and the violin by Norman- 
din of the Hanson Camp. The music is fine, 
too. It alone is a big attraction for men up 
in this country, as very few thought of 
bringing musical instruments. C. C. made a 
short talk, and so did Mr. Dozier of the Han- 
son Camp. After the regular service a 
social hour was spent. This was the first re- 
ligious meeting since leaving the States, for 
several of the men. It is very nice, I think, 
to have these Sunday meetings, if only for 
the social enjoyment. Rumor has come to 
us by way of the Yukon and Koyukuk that 
the Spanish war is at an end, and that the 
Philippines and Cuba are free. How we 
would like to know the details! But 
alas! by the time we do get them 
they will be as stale as last year's 
gingerbread. 

Nine men accepted our invitation 
for dinner, and our house might be 
said to be full. C. C. had prepared 
for such an emergency, and a big 
roast of bear with stuffing, fried 
venison and pies without limit made 
a feast that everyone enjoyed. We 
are all " prodigal sous," the only dif- 
ference being that we are having 
our " fatted calf " all the way along. 
Two of the men declared that this 
was the first time they had eaten 
pie since leaving home. There is 
nothing like pie to bring a fellow to 
his home senses. 

Those who have visited all the 
camps on the Kowak, say that ours 
is the largest and most comfortable house 
on the river. I think this is the case, but we 
are not the only ones who enjoy its comforts 
and hospitality. 

I do not expect we shall have so large an 
attendance again at Sunday services, for 
to-morrow ten of the Iowa boys, our nearest 
neighbors, start with heavily loaded sleds 
to get as far as possible toward the Koyu- 
kuk before the snow comes. Others are talk- 
ing of starting soon, and if more favorable 
news comes we may all skip out. I would 
not hesitate a moment to go now if we could 
be sure as to the snowfall. We have no 
snowshoes, and it would be disastrous to be 
snowed in for several months in some deso- 
late place with limited provisions. 

Yesterday I made a hood out of a canvas 
flour sack to be put on outside of my wool 
hood which mother knit, and it will keep 
out a good deal of wind. I also put a heavy 
canvas lining over my woolen mittens and 
darned several pairs of socks. That is the 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



31 



first time I have done any mending since 
leaving home. Perhaps there is no time in 
a fellow's life when affectionate remem- 
brance of his human sisters so comes to him 
as when his garments need repairing. Bless 
them! the sisters and mothers, not the gar- 
ments. 

Last week an Indian brought in another 
bear, a larger one than the Hunt River bear, 
and we traded for a hind quarter, about 
forty pounds. The flesh is rather strong. 
but we eat it with relish. C. C. has the 
promise of the hide. 

Yesterday there was great activity in sled 
building. Brown's sled is nearly 
done. Chenetto, a young Eskimo, 
worked for us most of the day lash- 
ing the pieces together. He is an ex- 
pert. Luckily I traded for a large 
quantity of walrus-hide string at 
Cape Prince of Wales. It is about 
the only material strong enough to 
lash sleds together. 

Last week we nearly all shaved 
our beards off, which greatly im- 
proves the looks of most of us. That 
was not the cause of their removal. 
The ice forms in one's moustache 
and beard in chunks, and is very dis- 
agreeable and inconvenient to carry 
about. C. C. had a specially fine 
beard and it became him. Mine was 
long on the chin with rather silky 
burnsides, and the boys then called 
me Si Pumpkins. I then shaved off 
my moustache and all but the long, 
straggling chin whiskers, and they 
called me Deacon Greentree. But 
now I am plain "Joe" again, and 
they tell me I shall never attempt an- 
other beard at risk of disgracing the 
camp. We have a pair of grocer's 
scales with our hundreds of other things, 
and weigh ourselves at times. My weight is 
148 pounds as against 127 when I left home 
last April. This proves that a trip to the 
Arctics is favorable to health and avoirdu- 
pois. 

By the way, I saw my first nuggets to-day. 
" Hard-luck Jim," one of the men from 
Ambler City, had three small gold nuggets, 
But they were not taken on the Kowak, alas! 
They came from Cook's Inlet. 

The " Flying Dutchman " gave us a dia- 
gram of the Kowak River, with the camps 
and distances as he judged them when skat- 
ing up the river. I will record them, begin- 
ning at Holtham Inlet. It may be years 
hence that some other prospecting parties 



will wend their way into these parts, and, 
seeing our deserted villages, pause in won- 
der at the lesson they teach. The first camp 
is forty miles from the mouth of the Kowak, 
the Buckeye Camp; then thirty-five miles 
and the Orphans' House; one-half mile and 
Sproud's Camp; nine miles, Riley Wreck; 
nine miles, Falkenberg Camp; one mile. 
Lower Kotzebue Camp; twelve miles, Indian 
Camp: twenty miles, Jesse Lou Camp; 
twelve miles, Sunnyside: one-half mile. 
Lower Hanson Camp; three miles. Lower 
Penelope Camp (our own) and Lower Iowa 
Camp; four miles, Guardian Camp; thirty 




The Leaning Tree that Marked our Camp. 

miles, Ambler City; three miles, Upper Han- 
son Camp; fifty miles, Mulkey's Landing; 
four miles. Camp Riley; four miles, Agues 
Boyd Camp; ten miles, Tapper Iowa Camp; 
two miles, Kogoluktuk River, on which, 
about six miles from the mouth, are the 
Upper Penelope Camp (our boys) and river 
boat "Helen"; ten miles, Stony Camp; one 
and one-half miles, Upper Kotzebue Camp 
and Kate Sudden gulch; three miles, Farus- 
worth Camp; three miles. Nugget Camp; 
eight miles, Upper Guardian Camp; five 
miles. Davenport Camp; five miles, Leslie D. 
Camp; eight miles, Ralston Camp; two miles, 
Par River, Captain Green's Camp. From 
this point there are camps on to the Reed 
River, seventy-five miles further up the 



32 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



Kowak, but the " Flying Dutchman " did 
not go farther than the Par River. He re- 
ports eight hundred men in winter quarters 
on the Kowak alone. Thus is this desolate 
Kowak country peopled with expectant gold 
seekers, where a year ago a white man's 
track in the snow was a thing unknown. 
And what will be the result? Time alone, 
with the assistance of my note-book, shall 
record it. And here come the boys, but the 
doctor's face is not jubilant. 



CHAPTER IX. 

"APOV. 15, 1898. The boys returned last 
J \ night very weary. They gave us the 
news much as the " Flying Dutch- 
man " had. Six of our Upper Penelope boys 
have started for the Koyukuk with four 





Starting for the Koyukuk. 

months' provisions. They are Miller, Foots, 
Alec, Stevenson, Shafer and Casey. They 
carry eighteen hundred pounds on two sleds, 
three men to each sled. Shaul has gone to 
the Pick River, where " good indications " 
are reported. That leaves Wilson, McCul- 
lough and Farrar at the Upper Camp. Dr. 
Coffin has little faith in the news. He fears 
it is an unfounded rumor like many another. 
Moreover our doctor thinks it foolhardy and 
dangerous to start on such a trip, and he is 
anxious about the boys who have gone. 
None of them have had any experience with 
cold weather, being California boys. Casey, 
in fact, was never outside of Los Angeles 



county, until this trip, and none of the crowd 
are dressed for severe weather. They have 
but little fur clothing. However, timber 
covers most of the country they will cross, 
and they will, of course, put up a cabin if 
necessary. You couldn't entice the doctor out 
on such a trip for all the gold in Alaska. 
It ranged down to thirty-five degrees below 
zero while he and the boys were out, and 
they camped several nights, although at all 
the camps on the river hospitality reigned. 
The doctor had one finger frozen. He says 
he did not suspect it was nipped until he 
warmed his hands over the camp fire. It is 
very easy to be frozen without knowing it, 
even with the thermometer only thirty-five 
degrees below. But what about sixty below 
zero? 

News has come to us that hundreds of 
other men are waiting to get to Kotzebue 
at the earliest possible 
moment. The gold-hunt- 
ers up the river are 
mostly doing nothing, 
waiting for spring to 
open so they can go 
home. A few are sink- 
ing shafts in favorable 
localities, but as yet 
without success, though 
there are some " indica- 
tions," whatever these 
are. It is a great under- 
taking to dig a hole in 
frozen ground. Fires are 
built and kept burning 
for some time and then 
removed, and the thawed 
dirt and gravel taken 
out. This process is re- 
peated again and again,, 
and the result is dread- 
fully slow. Frozen 
ground is tougher than 
rock to dig in. McCullough, Wilson and 
Farrar are starting such a hole at their 
camp. 

Our enthusiasm about the new strike on 
the Koyukuk is subsiding. We sing no more 
impromptu songs. But we have six men in 
that direction, and if they are fortunate 
enough to get through they will send two 
men back for provisions. 

Meanwhile I am collecting chickadees and 
redpolls. A couple or three of our leading 
men, who shall be nameless in this connec- 
tion, are homesick. Yes, blue. They will be 
seen in Southern California as soon as they 
can crawl out of the Kowak country on their 





GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



33 



hands and knees. Now, watch and see who 
they are. 

Three of our neighbors started up the 
river yesterday with a load of eleven hun- 
dred pounds on a sled. They started on the 
smooth ice all right, but five miles north 
the sand has covered the ice clear across the 
river. They were stuck there and, after 
struggling over the sand for a few hours, 
gave it up and returned. The Iowa boys 
have not started yet, but are spending more 
time in making good sleds and fixing skates 
on their runners. If they start at all, which 
I doubt, they will certainly have better suc- 
cess than others. Dr. Coffin declares he is 
going to stay by and in our good, warm 
cabin the rest of the winter. He is quite 
pessimistic to-night. He predicts much suf- 
fering this winter. He found in his recent 
travels that open fireplaces are a failure. 
Cabins heated by them are cold. There is 
too much draft and the temperature cools 
off quickly when the fire dies down. We 
have two stoves, and water never freezes 
over in the cabin. 

Nov. 18. We just had a dreadful catas- 
trophe. C. C. had set his keg of yeast on the 
rafters above the stove to keep warm and do 
its " work." Harry Reynolds had some poles 
near by across the rafters. The latter gen- 
tleman is at work on his new sled and, re- 
quiring one of the poles, reached for it rather 
hastily. As a result the yeast keg turned 
over. The doctor was sitting beneath, 
calmly reading some good book, when nearly 
the entire contents, a gallon of sour yeast, 
poured on to his unprotected head and down 
his neck, and spread itself out as if to shield 
him from any other danger. What a sight, 
it is impossible for me to portray. Not con- 
tent with deluging the poor medico, the stuff 
slopped over everything in the vicinity of 
two or three yards. Several of us had a 
dose, but none was so seriously affected as 
the doctor, who is even now at work on his 
clothes with warm water and a sponge. 
The smell of sour dough permeates the at- 
mosphere. Brown remarks that it reminds 
him of the extremely sour odor which filled 
the cabin of the " Penelope " the first night 
out from San Francisco. 

For my part I think it convenient to have 
these little interruptions when they fall on 
another man's head. It livens things up. 

One or two other events have served to 
liven us up. Last night one of the natives 
at the Indian village died. It was what we 
expected, for he has been very sick for a 



week with pneumonia. This morning at 
daylight we noticed a smoke across the river 
and I walked over to investigate the cause. 
I regretted finding the obsequies closed and 
the four natives who had officiated just leav- 
ing. They had taken the dead man and all 
his personal belongings over to the bank of 
the river opposite the village, to a little knoll, 
where they built a platform on some poles 
leaned against each other for support. The 
body was wrapped in tent cloth and laid on 
this platform, which was about five feet 
above the ground as high as the men could 
conveniently reach. After this the whole 
was firmly lashed together with walrus 
thong, so the winds and the dogs cannot tear 
it down. By the side of the scaffold the 




Scaffold Burial. 

dead man's sled was laid upside down, and 
hung on the willows around were all the 
personal belongings of the deceased. He 
was " well-to-do," and these amounted to 
considerable as the Eskimos valued them. 
There were two nice reindeer skins, his 
clothes, mittens, mnckluks, handkerchief, 
tin cup, etc. It seemed too bad to see those 
two deerskins left to decay in the weather, 
when the dead man's relatives are in sore 
need, but this is the invariable custom of 
these people. No worse than what occurs 
among Christians, when all available and 
unavailable funds are used to defray the 
expenses of an ostentatious funeral, leaving 
the family in destitution. 

Joe Jury and Jack Messing, two of the 
Hanson Camp boys, spent the day with us 
and we had a big dinner. This " having 
company " disturbs the monotony of so 
much " prospecting," as we are doing these 
days. 

Nov. 20, Sunday, 6 p. m. To-day has been 
a very enjoyable one at this camp on the 



34 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



Kowak. In fact every day is. The Hanson 
boys were all up for Sunday services. There 
were also two men from the Jesse Lou 
Camp, fifteen miles below us, who are visit- 
ing the Hanson Camp. The latter have in- 
vited our whole crowd down for Thanksgiv- 
ing dinner next Thursday. We look forward 
to a " big spread," for this camp is abun- 
dantly supplied with luxuries in the food 
line, as I can testify, having taken dinner 
with them twice already. They are well-to- 
do, educated men, full of spontaneous hilar- 
ity, and a great boon to the Penelope Camp. 
Solsbury is a correspondent of the San Jose 
" Mercury." He is a lawyer and of course a 
good talker. He tells stories by the hour. 

This afternoon he got started from some 
cause a predetermined one, I presume and 
talked for two hours. He resembles the 
newspaper cuts of Mark Twain. It is very 
entertaining when he tells of his experience 
in lumbering in the Sierras. His own boys 
say that he talks so incessantly that they 
beg him to quit before they get tired of his 
wit or confiscate it entirely. Everyone grows 
tiresome to his fellows on a trip like this; it 
could not be otherwise. Constant associa- 
tion for months brings out a man's faults 
and traits of character so plainly that those 
which are of little note glare like tiger's eyes 
in the dark, and his company becomes dis- 
agreeable, living as we do in a little cabin, 
and looking in each other's faces if we take 
a stroll, to keep watch for frost bites. It is 
better to be in a large company than in a 
small crowd, so one can vary his personal 
reflections. 

Jack Messing is a man one likes to meet. 
He is a German by birth and the most gen- 
erous of men by nature. His great fault is 
generosity, a vice seldom met with in my 
remembrance, and the boys make him the 
butt of dozens of jokes. He would give 
away the last stitch of clothing he owns 
should a man ask him. He gives the Eski- 
'mos all sorts of things and feeds them 
whenever he can, which is all the time, for 
these natives know a friend and are faithful 
to him. He has previously worn a full 
beard, but to-day he stalked into church 
with his face shaven clean excepting a long 
fringe of whiskers left in a circle from ear 
to ear around under his chin. He wore a 
belt and pistol, and had a big tin star on his 
left coat lapel and carried a " she-la-ly." 
He looked exactly like an Irish policeman, 
only with the usual recognized attributes 
of the latter highly accentuated. He stated 
in Irish dialect that he was after the thief 



who had stolen a pail of water from a cer- 
tain camp down the river. As this allusion 
was in reference to a well-known occurrence 
of a week ago, it was very disastrous to the 
serious feeling which should prevail at a 
religious meeting, and it was some time be- 
fore the congregation could settle down to 
the business in hand. 

This afternoon we had a regular concert. 
The violin, autoharp and banjo make tine 
harmony in this noiseless atmosphere, and 
we were soon expressing our feelings in 
jumping and dancing. Two pairs of bones 
rattled to such of the music as was appro- 
priate, and it was no dull time in the Pene- 
lope Camp. Clyde took the pictures of the 
crowd. I say this afternoon, but I mean to- 
day; it is light for only about six hours, and 
at high noon the sun scarcely peeps above 
the hills to the southward. It appears to be 
sundown at noon, and the colors of sky and 
landscape are beautiful. 

We have had our first snow, only an inch, 
but enough to whiten the landscape until 
the next wind, that is booked for a circus, 
whisks it all into the hollows and then cov- 
ers it up with sand, giving it a sharp rap 
and bidding it " stay there." 

This morning we saw a very beautiful 
mirage. The mountains and trees down the 
river from us were reflected in the sky 
above, upside down. Then for another fine 
display we have the aurora. Last night it 
appeared in the form of a great bow reach- 
ing nearly to the zenith. It consisted of 
many colored scintillating rays, which 
brightened and then almost disappeared, 
only to reappear in different form as if they 
had left the stage to change their costume. 
The aurora appears in different form each 
night. And there is the beautiful moonlight. 
The moon is above the horizon always now. 
It reverses the order of the sun and shines 
all day in winter, scarcely appearing in sum- 
mer. 

How the time flies, to me at least! Before 
we know it. Spring will tap at the door. 
The unbearable monotony of an Arctic win- 
ter, which some travelers dwell upon so 
desolately, is unknown to us so far, and I 
for one will never know it. During the past 
few weeks I have read. So far have de- 
voured " Last Days of Pompeii," " In His 
Steps," " Opening of a Chestnut Burr," 
" The Honorable Peter Sterling," and " Eti- 
dorpha." I spent two weeks upon the latter 
and think it is a wonderful book, coming 
upon my thoughts here in the Arctics like a 
great semi-scientific visitor. There are more 




GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



35 









books in the neighborhood than I could read 
in two winters. 

I have been given a new name " Chick- 
adee Joe." At the Hanson Camp they call 
me " Little Joe," to distinguish me from 
" Big Joe." We are very familiar with one 
another and change very suddenly from a 
highly intellectual crowd to one of stirring 
juvenility. We had such an unexpected 
romp the other day. There was about an 
inch of snow out on the smooth ice, and it 
was snowing great flakes still. Three of 




After the Ball. 

our boys were playing snowball with several 
of the Eskimo children, and washing each 
other's faces and slipping down all over the 
ice. Two Eskimo " belles " joined us, Kal- 
hak and Aggi-chuck, and they did not hesi- 
tate to give us a return snowball or a face 
full of the same. They were strong, too, 
and several times I found myself sprawling 
on the ice and covered with snow, to the 
great amusement of everyone. After all that 
may be said of this strange people, they de- 
rive a sort of very human satisfaction from 
their cold and narrow life, and I shall al- 
ways think of them as finding some happi- 
ness in the long winter along with the 
aurora and the moonlight. 



CHAPTER X. 

NOV. 25. To-day we are resting and 
slowly recovering from yesterday's 
" spree." It was the most gratifying 
Thanksgiving, as far as the gastronomic and 
social celebrations are considered, that I 



have experienced. At eleven o'clock in the 
morning our " Penelope " crowd of nine 
were marshaled into line out on the ice, and 
marched three miles down to the Hanson 
Camp. Harry Reynolds was elected cap- 
tain, and he bore a streamer of red, white 
and blue. We were all dressed exactly alike 
in our brown Mackinaw suits, sealskin 
uiuckluks and hoods. Our appearance was 
picturesque, and we regretted that there 
were so few spectators to review us. We 
admired ourselves. When we reached the 
first of the Hanson cabins, which are built 
within a short distance of each other in a 
spruce forest on a hillside, we lined up and 
sang " Marching Through Georgia " and 
other patriotic airs. We have only recently 
heard of the defeat of Spain, so were neces- 
sarily in harmony with the songs we sang. 

After breaking ranks we were divided 
among the cabins for the day's entertain- 
ment. Cabin No. 1 is occupied by Joe Jury. 
Normandin, Jack Messing and Solsbnry, and 
these gentlemen invited C. C. Reynolds, 
Clyde Baldwin, Rivers and myself. We felt 
the honor of our invitation, for they had 
been before styled the " Aristocracy of the 
Kowak." . 

After the " Penelope " crowd was appor- 
tioned, each division became the guests of 
the cabin to which it was assigned. Until 
about three o'clock our company sat quietly 
engaged in conversation. Meanwhile one 
could scarcely believe that a state dinner 
was in process of preparation, and that in 
the same room in which w r e were sitting. 
Solsbury was cook, and what appeared at 
his touch was marvelous, considering that 
the cabin was short on culinary utensils and 
he must " potter " over a little sheet-iron 
stove. 

At three o'clock the table was ready and 
we sat down to it, eight of us. We were 
seated opposite our hosts Rivers opposite 
Solsbury; C. C., Normandin; Clyde, Jack 
Messing; and I opposite Joe Jury (Big Joe 
and Little Joe), in the order named. At each 
plate was an " Arctictically " executed 
menu a section of birch, one of the logs of 
our hosts' cabin; thus literally were we the 
guests of the house. This in itself was a 
very appropriate memento of Thanksgiving 
on the Kowak. 

On one side of the plaque was written in- 
delibly the menu. In one corner was a 
sketch of the cabin. On the opposite we 
later wrote our names, alternately, in order 
as we sat at table. Here is a partial state- 
ment of the menu: 



36 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



Split pea soup. Wafers. 

Roast ptarmigan. Jelly. 
Turkey potpie. 
Sweet potato. Baked potato. Sweet corn. 

Sago pudding. 

Mince pie. Jelly tarts. Olives. Pickles. 
Coffee. Cocoa. 

This spread was one hardly to be expected 
in the wilds of the Arctics; though, as I have 
said, the Hanson Camp is never lacking 




Our Big Haul of Ptarmigan. 

in luxuries. Toward the end toasts were 
proposed and speeches made. My toast was 
to the ptarmigan, " The Turkey of the 
Kowak." 

We were two hours and a half at the table, 
and I hesitate to say that some of us, my- 
self included, had eaten more than was for 
our intellectual good, and we were glad to 
throw ourselves on the beds which bordered 
the dining-room. For the next two hours we 
rested and gradually revived. Meanwhile 
our hosts entertained us in original style. 
One of the jokes was as follows: A pot was 
set in one corner and in it was placed a 
small spruce branch. Then Joe Jury sat 
down behind this combination and picked 
a tune from a string which was stretched 
on a small wooden block. The translation 
of this performance, as we were informed, 
was, " After dinner the orchestra dispensed 
sweet music from behind potted plants." 
After we had enjoyed hours of fun, all the 
guests were summoned from all the cabins 
and crowded into ours. Several speeches 



followed, by Solsbury, Dr. Coffin, C. C. Rey- 
nolds, Jury, Normandin and others. Then 
came more jokes. 

At last the party broke up, and, after three 
cheers for the Hanson boys, we marched 
home in the bright Arctic moonlight, in the 
order we had come. Thus ended the first 
Thanksgiving ever celebrated on the 
mighty Kowak. On our return home we 
found the house had not been burglarized 
another proof that we were not in the limits 
of civilization. 

And here we are, spending the winter in 
ease and luxury, while our friends at home 
are " remembering us in their prayers," and 
imagining us in all sorts of peril, with dan- 
ger of overwork, amid privation and hard- 
ship. The fact is. we haven't done a stroke 
of work worth mentioning, when we had 
expected to be digging out the precious nug- 
gets. In which condition are we the happier 
or best off? I prefer the situation as it is. 
What is gold anyway? It is the " root of all 
evil," according to a misquotation, and, 
conversely, I believe the less money a per- 
son has, the happier life he leads. Anyway 
it is good policy for us to advance this doc- 
trine until we strike something. It tends to 
keep us content. 

Nov. 28. The doctor and I have been out 
hunting. We directed our course down 
through the sand-dunes on this side of the 
river, and had the best luck so far with the 
ptarmigan. We got eighteen with twenty- 
four shots, which beats all records, as the 
birds are shy and, on account of their thick 
coat, extremely hard to kill. We stalked them 
among the hillocks, finding them feeding 
in the grass or in the thickets of dwarf 
willows which grow in the low places. We 
kept together and when we had spotted a 
flock we crept up behind the nearest dune, 
often getting quite close before alarming 
them. I got three at one pot-shot. They are 
hard to see on the snow, but where the sand 
is bare or with a background of bushes they 
are conspicuous. I had one vexatious acci- 
dent. We spotted some birds on the oppo- 
site side of the lake and crept around the 
margin on the ice, hidden by bushes until 
we were within a few yards. I had two 
ptarmagin beautifully lined up and was just 
pushing the trigger, when my feet slipped 
from under me and my gun went off into 
the air. Before I could recover myself the 
ptarmigan were also up in the air. The ice 
is very slippery where the snow is blown 
off, as the sand driven over it by the north 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



'37 



rind keeps it polished and prevents the hoar 
frost from forming on it. The doctor found 
a muskrat frozen to death near its hole. It 
fell to my mammal collection. I also caught 
a gray meadow mouse alive, as it was cross- 
ing a little pond. It is but my second. The 
burrows and runways of the little red- 
backed mouse are common in the woods and 
meadows. My steel traps have caught noth- 
ing but jays so far. I am sorry to catch the 
jays, for i do not disturb them near home, 
hoping to get their eggs next spring. I 
shall have ptarmigan to skin for several 
days now and so make recompense for my 
recent idleness. I can only work by day- 
light, which lasts but about three hours now, 
that is, light enough for me to work at my 
table. The sun scarcely climbed above the 
horizon to-day. Clyde took the doctor's and 
my photos to-day with our big haul of ptar- 
migan. 

Yesterday there was a fair attendance at 
church. Services were held in our cabin, as 
the meeting-house fireplace fell in. It will 
probably not be used again soon, as it is too 
cold to mix clay to mend the breach. Twen- 
ty-nine degrees below zero, and one has to 
be careful to keep ears, and hands covered. 

"Uncle Jimmy" (Mr. Wyse) gave me a 
fatherly talking to for skinning ptarmigan 
on Sunday. Hitherto I have used any time 
available for skinning birds, but yesterday, 
after a long argument and discussion, I 
yielded for the winter. Uncle Jimmy argued 
that I couldn't fill in all the time there is on 
week-days, and even if I don't see a rea- 
son for not working on Sunday, I should 
" consider the feelings of those who do." He 
is a nice old Scotchman, and I like him. 

I have just finished reading " Hugh 
Wynne." The doctor brought home some 
numbers of " Appleton's Science Monthly " 
from the Hanson Camp, also some back 
numbers of " Harper's." and I am reading 
articles in them. 

The doctor, Brownie, Uncle Jimmy and I 
had a hot argument to-day on capital pun- 
ishment, also one on " how a young stu- 
dent should begin to specialize in any 
branch of study." I always take the side 
opposite the majority, so I can have more 
opportunity for argument. We have good 
and instructive times in this employment. 
Wednesday evening next is the first of a 
series of literary entertainments to be held 
weekly. Solsbury will lecture on " The 
Practical Value of Art." 

Dec. 3. This morning Harry Cox and 



Harry Reynolds started with Indian Tom up 
the Kowak. Tom was our guide on our 
first steamer trip across Holtham Inlet last 
summer, and he has been camping in the 
delta until now. He is on his way to the 
Par River, where his winter igloo is located. 
The Harrys took advantage of company to 
go along with Tom. They took a sled and 
two dogs, with just enough outfit to supply 
them on the trip. Their object is to visit the 
various camps up the river and find out all 
the news, especially in regard to the strike 
at the head of the Koyukuk. An Indian by 
the name of Shackle-belly visited us yester- 
day. He has just come down from the 
Kalamute River, about one hundred and 
fifty miles above us, and brings exciting 
news. He speaks pretty good English for a 
native. He said that be had heard that on 
the Alashook white men were as thick as 
mosquitoes and digging out " plenty gold." 
These men had come up the Koyukuk last 
summer from the Yukon with lots of steam 
launches. They could not get further up 
than one hundred and fifty miles below the 
place where the gold is found on the Alas- 
hook River, on account of the rapids, so they 
had to wait and sled up. Shackle-belly also 




Indian Tom and Family. 

said that most of the men above us on the 
Kowak had already started over. 

It will be very dangerous for these men 
now at twenty-nine degrees below zero, and 
it must grow much colder with more wind, 
up on those barren mountain passes between 
the heads of the Kowak and Alashook. The 
Indian said one man had already frozen to 
death on the trail this side, and one had 
fallen through a hole in the ice, getting out 
all right, but before he could build a fire he 



38 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



had frozen through. Several are frostbitten. 
We are anxious about our six boys who 
started from the Upper Penelope Camp over 
three weeks ago. However, if they met with 
no accidents, they must be over into the 
valley of the Alashook by this time, where 
the natives tell us there is plenty of large 
timber. Tom tells us that seven Indians 
have died down the river, and that white 
men are very sick. Tom has his family 
with him and of course all his belongings, 
which seldom amount to much, according to 
our estimation of values, among these na- 
tives. He has two sleds and six dogs. He 
and his family spent the night with us. We 
spread tents for them on the floor. We have 




Windings of Squirrel River. 

not been affected with vermin so far, and 
take precautions. 

Last Wednesday was the first evening of 
the proposed literary society. Solsbury was 
to have been the lecturer of the night, but 
was sick and couldn't come. However, the 
society elected officers Joseph Grinnell as 
president, and Dr. Coffin secretary. Then 
the doctor conducted a question box. Some 
of the questions asked and written on slips 
of paper, with the name of the man who was 
to answer, were very serious; others were 
humorous. 

By the way, I must record a new pie which 
has fallen to the lot of the Penelope Camp. 
('. (.'. makes dozens of pie. We have pie 
every meal and between meals, and if a fel- 
low gets hungry in the night when the rest 
are snoring, there is pie for his satisfaction. 
An old Eskimo woman from the village 
brought C. C. a pail of what she considered 
a rare delicacy, a gift expressive of her 
motherly consideration. It was a concoc- 
tion of wild cranberries and seal oil. 

It was suggestive to the natural bent of 



the cook's mind, and he made a pie of the 
stuff. We ate every bit of it that is, three 
of us did; the rest wouldn't touch it. I ate 
my share, and must say that if you overlook 
the strong seal flavor, it would not be con- 
sidered bad. I learned to eat cranberry done 
in oil when I was near Sitka three years 
ago. It is too extravagant a dish to be eaten 
every day, and the natives keep it, Ameri- 
can-wise, " for company." 

Last Tuesday the wind blew a gale at sev- 
enteen degrees below zero, and I thought I 
would see what I could stand. I wear now 
a union suit of fleece-lined underwear, a pair 
of blanket-lined canvas trousers, and a 
heavy wool shirt, with a pair of thin wool 
socks and a pair of lumber- 
man's socks inside my 
muckluks. I put on a 
leather corduroy coat and 
my heavy wool hood, with 
a scarf around my neck 
and across my face. I was 
gone, do\vn among the 
sand dunes, about an hour 
and a half. The wind had 
an unmolested sweep there 
and, I had good opportunity 
to test my clothes. It did 
not penetrate my clothing 
a particle, and I was per- 
fectly warm all except my 
face. The wind pierced like 
a sword right through my 
scarf and wool hood. When I got home the 
lobe of my left ear was frostbitten and also 
the same side of my nose. Both sections of 
my countenance are now very sore and are 
peeling off. I should have worn a canvas 
hood outside of my wool hood. Canvas 
keeps the wind out better than anything 
else. Furs are the best clothing in this 
country, but are very scarce among these 
poor Indians, and but few of our company 
have any. Again we regret not having 
traded for furs at Cape Prince of Wales. 
But we do not suffer by any means. We 
have clothing enough to last for years. We 
are not so fortunate in the provision line. 
However, should we strike it rich enough, 
lying around in our warm cabin, to make it 
pay another winter, it will be an easy, mat- 
ter to send the " Penelope " back to San 
Francisco for another load. The "Penel- 
ope"! What will be her fate when the ice 
breaks up in the spring no one can foretell. 
At the mercy of the unlimited and savage 
ice of Bering Sea. a frail little craft, no 
longer than the frontage of a city lot. We 




GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



39 



do not think or speak of the " Penelope " 
very often. We may be orphans in the 
spring. 

CHAPTER XI. 

DEC. 8. The beautiful snow has come at 
last and to-day it is six inches deep on 
the level. The trees are loaded and 
the river and meadows are painfully white. 
We must get out our snow-glasses, of which 
we have an abundance for all. Our con- 
dition seems to resemble that of the Swiss 
Family Robinson. We find everything we 
desire in our cabin, if not in our " wreck." 
We have no wreck. The north wind has 
been blowing a gale for days, which at 
last amounted to a blizzard. I went 
across the river in the teeth of the wind, 
just crawling along on the slippery ice, 
but the fun was in coming back. I had 
but to keep my balance and the wind 
did the rest. 

We have been having some strange ex- 
periences with the Eskimos the past 
week, which has introduced us to more of 
their interesting superstitions. 

Sunday evening, while we were all en- 
gaged in reading, or quiet talk, we were 
suddenly startled by a loud groaning out- 
side. As the gruesome sound grew nearer 
we scarcely knew what to expect, but 
were prepared to give relief to sick or 
wounded human beings of whatever type. 
We rushed to the door, to find Charley, the 
Indian medicine man from the native vil- 
lage above. We thought at first that he 
was but practicing his arts, but when he 
was brought in groaning and sobbing we 
realized that he was really very sick, and 
the doctor pronounced it pneumonia. Soon 
Charley's family followed, and one of the 
little children was nearly frozen. The 
wind was blowing a gale, and Charley 
told us that he had come down from his 
igloo, four miles. 

A few days before one of his wives had 
died, she who had eaten the bear gravy, 
and, according to Indian superstition that a 
person who lives in a house after another 
has died in it will surely die himself, he 
had moved out of his warm dugout into a 
tent. Of course it was very cold in the tent, 
and Sunday morning one of his little girls 
died as the result of exposure. So Charley 
could no longer live in either the tent or the 
igloo, and he was thrown out into the piti- 
less storm with his other wife and three re- 
maining children. They went to a neighbor- 



ing igloo, but a native would as soon commit 
suicide as shelter any of the family of the 
deceased in his house or enter the house 
where one has died. As a last resort Char- 
ley came to our cabin, and no doubt the 
whole family would have died but for 
this. 

Of course we warmed and fed all of them, 
and the doctor attended upon Charley, who 
was too sick to object to another medicine 
man's treatment. Several of us then went 
over to the church cabin and, by stopping 
the fireplace and putting up a camp stove, 
we made it a comfortable hospital. Charley 
is there now. Not a single Indian has been 
inside our cabin since Charley was here. 




Indian Charley and Family. 



They say if they come in they will surely 
" mucky " (die). We are very glad they 
have taken this course, as heretofore they 
have been too numerous altogether. It 
would be to our advantage to keep one sick 
man with us. W T e have tried to induce a 
couple of young men to cut wood for Char- 
ley, but they declare that also is dangerous. 
Charley's wife dare not touch an axe for the 
same reason, so we have to chop their wood 
ourselves. Wonder if we will any of us be 
alive in the spring after such dangers. 
None of the Indians give them any food, so 
we are attending to that matter. We are 
doing our best to get them to overcome these 



40 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



Inhuman and exasperating superstitions. 
They can plainly see that we do not hesitate 
to care for the sick or the dead. 

Tuesday night the patient was so sick the 
doctor thought he could not live without 
especial care, so we decided to watch with 
him. Rivers and I stayed with him from 
one to five o'clock in the early morning. 
And it was an odd experience. We had 
Charley bolstered up on two benches placed 
side by side near the stove. We kept a hot 
water bag on his chest and occasionally 
made him take ptarmigan broth with soaked 




A Funeral Cortege. 

hardtack. Poor fellow! had he been fed on 
such a diet while well and able to appre- 
ciate it, he might well have been surprised. 
But he was too near death to appreciate 
what we were doing. He would have spasms 
of coughing and loud groaning, catching his 
breath and rolling his eyes. Then he would 
fall back with his head lying limply over 
his shoulder, breathing short and with 
scarcely perceptible pulse. We thought he 
was about to die, but the climax passed and 
he revived. While we were taking care of 
him his wife slept, for she had probably 
been without rest for days. She now waits 
on him and is very attentive to his wants, 
and does the best she knows how, being 
generally more intelligent than most of the 
women. They all have little ingenuity in 
caring for the sick, and this is one reason 
why they die. Could these natives be per- 
suaded to have a few of their women edu- 
cated as nurses, how much less would, be the 
winter mortality! Had we time we could 
do this, but it would take years, and women 
beside. We have no women. But here are, 



or will be, all the abandoned cabins on the 
Kowak by spring. What an opening for the 
mission-inclined! Free hospitals and free 
beds such as they are. And they are not 
mean. There are chairs, too, and carpeted 
floors. 

In the meantime Charley's dead child, as 
we supposed, had been sole tenant of the 
igloo which had been vacated. This fact 
gave a sudden joy to C. C., the undertaker. 
As if by instinct he scented a resurrection 
of his neglected business, and it was with 
little difficulty that he persuaded Charley 
to let him give it a Christian 
burial. C. C. and Joe Jury 
went up to see about it, and 
found that the ceremonies 
had already been performed 
and the corpse was resting 
on one of the usual scaffolds 
near the igloo. This did not 
matter. They made a coffin 
of boards, sawed at our mill, 
and brought the corpse 
down to Penelope Camp, 
Jury as coroner and C. C. 
as funeral director. The 
hearse was a sled and the 
black horses a couple of 
dogs. Of course Charley 
was too sick to attend the 
funeral services, but his 
woman came and watched 
proceedings. She objected 
to nothing in any way when told that 
was the way white men buried their dead. 
But she insisted on putting some dishes and 
half a sack of flour in the grave before it 
was filled. The flour C. C. had brought down 
from the igloo, intending it for the family to 
eat. But they couldn't think of consigning 
a dead child to the unknown future without 
supplying it with sufficient means of sup- 
port until it should reach its uncertain des- 
tination. So twenty-five pounds of good 
flour was interred with the coffin. C. C. 
intended this burial to teach the natives bet- 
ter methods than their own superstitious 
ways, but I for one doubt the propriety of 
burial in the ground in this country, as in 
summer the earth is saturated and covered 
with water, and in winter it is frozen to 
granite. As it turned out, the funeral was 
not a very extraordinary object lesson, for 
not a single Eskimo attended, save the 
woman mentioned, though they were espe- 
cially asked to come. I am not sure that the 
funeral director was not guilty of making a 
" grave " mistake in the closing ceremonies. 




GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



41 



had just been assuring the woman 
mourner that the dead would need no 
further food or clothing in the " beyond " 
where she had now gone, when it occurred 
to him that a simple demonstration of sor- 
rowful affection might be appropriate. Just 
before filling the grave he had all the by- 
standers (gold - hunters on the Kowak) 
throw in each a spruce bough, and the 
woman did likewise. I suppose he chose 
the spruce in place of impossible flowers, 
but the solitary mourner must have consid- 
ered the act an inconsistent one after the 
remarks which had been made. 

The doctor and I felt some uneasiness as 
to a special feature of the funeral and ac- 
cordingly acted. Now I have no doubt my 
friend was no stranger to the scheme, but I 
was; nevertheless I went about my duty 
with the approval of my immature con-* 
science. We went out as if to take a stroll, 
as was our frequent custom, and dug into 
the grave, removing the buried sack of flour. 
We very carefully tilled in the grave and left 
all as it had been before. The snow which 
was falling at the time soon covered our 
footprints (whereupon might be written a 
poem), and no Eskimo will ever suspect our 
subtle deed. We put the flour into a new 
clean sack and presented it to Charley as a 
mutual gift. This was Kowak philan- 
throphy, though, if the natives had found us 
out, we might have had to suffer. The doc- 
tor and I congratulate ourselves on doing a 
real good deed in a naughty world. 

Yesterday Charley's father came down 
from the village to pay his son a visit, but 
he evidently did not intend to enter the 
cabin, carrying on his conversation from 
without, very much as white folks do in 
cases of scarlet fever or other infectious dis- 
ease. Some of us happened to be near by 
chopping wood, and we tried to induce him 
to go in. Finally the woman came out and 
built a fire, putting on green spruce twigs 
to make a dense smoke. The old man then 
stooped over the smudge, spreading a blan- 
ket over and around himself, thus confining 
the smoke about his body for several min- 
utes. He then apparently considered him- 
self immune from any evil and went into 
the cabin without further hesitation. This 
process of disinfection is certainly reason- 
able, only it was applied at the wrong end 
of affairs. He is a very old man and of no 
help about the patient, so we have an added 
charge. 

Dec, 12, Monday. I shot three redpolls 



this morning over in the willows. J then 
tried to utilize our brief stint of daylight to 
skin them by, but was obliged to resort to 
the dim light of a candle after all. We get 
no more sunshine here in the valley. At 
noon only the snowy mountain peaks are il- 
luminated by straggling rays from the tru- 
ant sun. The landscape is often magnifi- 
cent. 1 stood on the bank several minutes 
at noon admiring the views. The northern 
horizon was deep blue, and, contrasted with 
it, were the snow-covered ranges, which were 
tinged a rich pink. The sky above was 
slightly overcast, as if covered by a delicate 
pink veil. Dark purple shadows crossed the 
zenith, but toward the sun all was bright 
yellow and gold. The snow-covered river 
and meadows beyond were so white that 
they seemed to have a blue tint. Then the 
spruce forests with their ragged outlines 
looked dark and gloomy as they were 
sketched against the mountains or horizon. 
I never imagined such color effects as are 
displayed every day here. I do not think 
that the brightest colors on an artist's pal- 
ette could exaggerate the brilliant hues of 
the sky during our short period of twilight. 
We are looking for a tenant for our cabin. 
Let some club of artists engage it for a sea- 
son and they will be in ecstasy. 

A change in the weather! This morning a 
southeast wind sprang up and sent the ther- 
mometer to twenty-three degrees above zero. 
At this hour yesterday it was thirty-four 
degrees below. Although nine degrees be- 
low freezing, the air feels balmy as it strikes 
our faces. This is the first day in two 
months that I have taken a walk across the 
river in an ordinary hat. I could not go far, 
as the snow is badly drifted now. I saw a 
few redpolls and one raven. Rivers and 
Uncle Jimmy dug a new water-hole to-day. 
The ice is three and one-half feet thick. 

In the cabin all is quiet as I write. The 
only light is my little candle -on the dining- 
table. Uncle Jimmy is asleep, with his head 
on his crossed hands, on the opposite side of 
the table. C. C. is sitting in an arm-chair at 
the further end of the room probably think- 
ing of home. Brownie and Clyde went over 
to one of the Iowa camps a few hours ago. 
Some of the boys are restless and delight in 
visiting. 

Dr. Coffin got word from Dr Gleaves to 
go down to the Hanson Camp. A man on 
his way up the river from one of the lower 
camps has frozen his toes, and they are in 
such a condition that amputation is neces- 
sary. Dr. Coffin wanted me to go with him 



42 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



to assist, thinking me cool and nervy, but I 
declined. If they were nice, fresh, sound 
members, nothing would delight me better 
than to render assistance, but I have a re- 
pugnance to dead, decaying flesh. For this 
and other reasons I never would skin a bird 
that had died of itself, though 1 saw it fly 
against a telegraph wire. 

I am studying hard. I am at work on my 
physiology, and also committing to memory 
a " Glossary of Scientific Terms." The 
boys ridicule me for reading the dictionary 
so much, saying that the subject is changed 
too often to make it profitable reading. I 
am also teaching German to Rivers and 
Brownie. They are a very willing class. 
Other times I am studying bacteriology 




Native Family at Home. 

with the doctor. We are a literary and 
scientific crowd. Our latest argument last 
night was " How to Dispose of the City 
Slums." The doctor reads portions of Josiah 
Strong's " New Era " to us and then we 
discuss it. The Literary Society of the Ko- 
wak met Wednesday evening with a good 
attendance. " The Practical Value of Art " 
was thoroughly expounded by Solsbury of 
the Hanson Camp, though he required two 
hours to do it and some of the art-less ones 
grew sleepy. 

Indian Charley is nearly well now, and, 
like a white man in such circumstances, is 
appreciative of all we have done for him. 
He assures us that his woman shall sew for 
us, and that he himself will bring us fish 
when the spring opens. We hope he will 
continue in a thankful frame of mind. An- 
other native died at the Hanson Camp of 
pneumonia. Dr. Gleaves kept him in his 
own cabin for days but failed to restore 



him, as the man was too far gone when he 
saw him. The relatives of the dead man 
had heard how C. C. buried Charley's little 
girl in a box, and insisted that they, too, 
have a " calboona " (white man's burial). 
Again was our undertaker alert and in his 
" native element," so to speak, and superin- 
tended the making of a coffin, and the vari- 
ous other incidentals of the funeral. The 
friends of the deceased brought a large 
number of articles, including a new gun, 
spy-glasses, parkas, skins, etc., to be in- 
terred with the body, but were finally 
dissuaded from thus destroying everything, 
save the dead man's pipe and tobacco 
pouch. These they believed he could by 
no means get along without in the next 
world. Before the In- 
dian died he begged 
several times of Dr. 
Gleaves to kill him with 
a knife, and thus aid 
him in parting from 
his own misery. We 
are assured that the 
native medicine men 
sometimes do this, and 
at first glance there 
seems a humane side to 
the argument. On sec* 
ond thought, however, 
it is clear that the duty 
of a physician is to 
allay suffering, while 
life is naturally pro- 
longed, leaving it to 
some other One to name 
the date of release. We hear of a woman 
sick at the village. Surely the Eskimos will 
soon be a race of the past unless civilization 
comes to their aid. 

Dec. 19. It has blown a gale for six days 
and we have scarcely been out of the house 
in that time. The bright, warm cabin is 
preferable. We only hear the roar of the 
wind outside, and occasionally from the cor- 
ners comes a cold draught of air dumbly 
whistling through the moss-crowded chinks. 
The two Harrys got back Wednesday night 
after a very hard trip. They only got twenty 
miles beyond Ambler City before they were 
caught by the snow, which shortly was 
more than a foot in depth and they could 
not travel. Harry R. induced a severe 
attack of rheumatism and could walk only 
with difficulty. He came near freezing to 
death. He wanted to lie down and sleep, 
and Cox had all he could do to force 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



43 






him on until they reached a cabin. Harry 
R. must have suffered terribly, for he is as 
thin and pale as any ghost I ever met. Al- 
though they went only about fifty miles up 
the river, they heard rumors from beyond 
which knock all the props from under our 
recent hopes. Our boys of the upper camp 
who started for the Allashook have re- 
turned, not being able to get over the pass 
on account of the deep snow. Moreover it 
is rumored that the golden reports from the 
Allashook were invented by a couple of 
men, one of whom has eight hundred pounds 
of provisions over there to sell, and the other 
wants to be recorder of claims. 

There are other reports of strikes up the 
river, but I for one shall pay no heed, nor 
will I write about them. Several people 
have been up from camps below, trying to 
get loads of provisions. They are having a 
hard time. Several have returned and two 
are waiting for better weather. It is really 
dangerous traveling now. More than one 
man has nearly lost his life. One came to 
our cabin with his face frozen, and did not 
know it until we told him. It is useless to 
think of traveling in this biting cold. And 
here comes a pounding on our woodshed 
door. Half a dozen of us run to open it, 
glad that we have shelter for any wan- 
derer. 



CHAPTER XII. 

DEC. 20. A man has just come up from 
the Orphans' Home with bad news. 
Poor Uncle S. is lost and probably 
frozen to death. He left the Orphans' Home 
to walk to the Mission a mouth ago and has 
not been seen since, although several parties 
have come up from the Sound. His tracks 
were seen by the " Flying Dutchman " on 
one of the forks of the Kowak in the 
delta. Uncle S. had our letters, so these will 
never reach their destination and the home 
folks will be disappointed. Possibly a whole 
year with no news from the gold-hunters of 
the Arctics. I suppose the body will be 
found when the snow melts in the spring. 
Uncle S. was a nice old Quaker, speaking 
" thee " and " thou " habitually. He spent 
the night with us on his way down and was 
very entertaining. He played a game of 
whist with us in the evening, and it was 
very odd and amusing to hear such expres- 
sions as, " Now, Joseph, play thy hand 
properly." "Is this my trick or thine?" 
"Did thee play thy ace?" etc. Uncle 
Jimmy, who doesn't believe in card games, 



tried to start an argument with Uncle S., 
but the latter only said very quietly, " One 
can play music with good or evil inten- 
tions; so I think with a simple game of 
whist." I never saw Mr. S. before, and it 
is a strange incident up here in the Arctics, 
to hear him tell me about my father, who, in 
his youth, paid some considerable devotion 
to a relative of his, giving me many pleas- 
ant reminiscences of both my father's and 
mother's families. These old-time memories, 
told in the dim candlelight of the peopled 
cabin, interested our whole company, and 
we all took to calling our guest " Uncle, S.", 
as much out of respect to the man as to a 
possible relationship which might have ex- 
isted between himself and me. But he is 
gone now and we shall look forward to pay- 
ing him suitable ceremonies in the spring. 
Our undertaker is preparing to embalm the 
body when discovered. He was a Friend of 
some note from Ohio, who drifted up here, 
like the rest of us " world's people," after 
gold. 

Our camp is in quite a bustle this week 
preparing for Christmas. We have invited 
the Hanson boys up to dinner with us, and 
we are getting ready for a big time. The 
Saturday before Christmas we are to have a 
tree and feed all the natives in the country. 
The doctor has been at work on scrap pic- 
ture books for the children, finding no end 
of beautiful chromos on the tin cans about 
the respective camps, besides other litho- 
graphs and steel engravings from various 
sources. Art is taking on shape and form 
and expression under the magic of the dye- 
tor's touch in a way surprising to both him 
and us. 

The literary society last Wednesday was 
the best so far. Thies,. of the Los Angeles 
Camp, read a paper on Theosophy. It was 
entitled, " The Home of Contentment," and 
was very reasonable from his point of view, 
and well received by all. The doctor gave a 
short talk on " How to Care for a Frost 
Bite." This was of great practical value to 
all present. 

Dec. 21. Forty-six degrees below zero to- 
day, and I, for the fun of it, walked down 
to the Hanson Camp. It was not at all un- 
comfortable, nothing like what it is when 
the wind blows, at ten degrees below zero. 
Normandin, of the San Jose cabin, has 
rigged up a turning lathe, using a grindstone 
as the driving wheel. He is turning out all 
sorts of things from birch and spruce. He 
has sent up a quantity of dolls' heads and 



44 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



tops for the Eskimo Christmas tree. One of 
the Los Angeles boys is carving faces on the 
dolls' heads, to distinguish which is the front 
side of the head, the image being of the 
same proportions all around. He gives them 
almond eyes and flat noses just like the na- 
tive babies. 

Now that the first snow has appeared, the 
natives are busy at snowshoes, and several 
of our boys are experimenting in the same 
line. The Eskimos are very expert in this 
kind of work, and their snowshoes are 
models of symmetry and neatness. 

The aurora is very brilliant some nights 
now, but there is no reason visible why, on 




Near-by Neighbors. 

other nights just as favorable, as far as we 
cap discover, there is none at all. In this 
extremely cold weather, and especially dur- 
ing a sudden change of temperature, the ice 
in the river cracks and groans terrifically. 
This morning, as I.was walking down to 
the Hanson Camp, the phenomena were very 
much in evidence, so much so that it was 
gruesome to a lonely body. At one place 
when I stepped off from a drift of packed 
snow on to the bare ice, there came a series 
of thundering reports like cannon shots, and 
then a succession of sharp reports and 
creaks and other awful sounds, that finally 
died away into the dead silence of Arctic 
darkness. Such combination of sounds, to- 
gether with a reasonable amount of imagin- 
ation sure to accompany them, is startling, 
especially if it is quite dark and one is all 
alone. Sometimes a faint crack will start 
others like it all around, and these in turn 
will give rise to a rapid fusillade extending 
hundreds of yards up and down the river. 
And there are the crunch and crackle of the 



dry snow under one's muckluks, emitting 
various modulations of sound, from the 
sharp bark of a dog to the squeak of a 
mouse. One has company even in solitude, 
and there can be no solitude in the world 
like this in the Arctics. Oh, it is all so en- 
joyable and fascinating to me! It is like 
reading a book on a new subject, for one 
interested in Nature to visit this country. I 
fear I will be sorry to leave it when the 
time comes. However, two years may 
change one's views of many things. 

Dec. 29. Four men from the Orphans' 
Home on their way up the river, spent last 
night with us, and were interesting com- 
pany. One of the men, a Mr. Thornton, 
knows several people of Seattle and Sitka 
whom I know. He was at Sitka and Mt. St. 
Elias with the Prince Luigi party in 1897, 
and has an article in the " Overland 
Monthly " just out. He claims to have seen 
the Silent City, a mirage exactly resembling 
a distant view of a large city. Several have 
seen it, and one man, a photographer whom 
I met at Juneau two years ago, claims to 
have a photograph of it. I have heard it in- 
timated that the photo is a fake. Prof. Jor- 
dan's article on the Silent City in the March, 
1898, number of " Popular Science Monthly " 
is to the point. Thornton says there is no 
doubt about photos and cuts of the mirage 
being unauthentic, but he affirms that he 
and five men of the Prince Luigi party saw 
it just as he describes it. We had a big dis- 
cussion on mirages last night. Yesterday at 
the literary, my paper was on the familiar 
topic, " What Birds Eat," and, though rather 
lengthy, was well received. I think our men 
would be interested in almost any paper that 
discussed the subject of eating. Dr. Gleaves 
lectured a week ago on the " Cruise of the 
Revenue Cutter ' Bear ' in 1893." He was 
surgeon on board of her during that year. 
He is now president of the Hanson crowd, 
more properly speaking, " The Kotzebue 
Mercantile and Trading Company," just as 
we of the " Penelope " gang are the " Long 
Beach, Alaska, Mining and Trading Com- 
pany." How bulky and pompous that 
sounds! If we do not find a bit of gold 
while we are here, we shall have the satis- 
faction of presuming ourselves to be one of 
the best equipped companies on the Kowak, 
and are looked up to very much as the Van- 
derbilts are in New York. Sense of such 
distinction as this tends to increase the size 
of our heads, which are really very large 
indeed, when considered in their covering of 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



45 






wool hood, canvas hood, scarf, etc. We are 
advised to enjoy these sensations while it is 
feasible, as doubtless when we reach the 
wharf at San Francisco or San Pedro on our 
return trip we may have to foot it home 
just like common tramps, or prodigal sons 
who have wasted their substance and that 
of our grub-stakers in " riotous living." 

On Christmas, day of all days, didn't we 
have a "spread"! C. C. worked at it for a 
month beforehand and even stayed up all 
the night previous cooking and compound- 
ing. I suppose he will have forty pages 
about it in his diary, for although he worked 
until he was exhausted, he declares it the 




Christmas Dinner. 

happiest occasion we have had. And the re- 
sults of all our labor were really immense. 

The ten Hanson boys and a Mr. Van Dyke 
dined with us. The table was twenty feet 
long, covered with a snow-white cloth, and 
lighted by two candelabra of eight candles 
each. 

These beautiful articles of use and orna- 
ment were made by Clyde from a many 
branched birch, and the effect in lighting 
our large cabin was brilliant. The menu 
was gotten up by Rivers. It was a sketch 
of the landscape around our cabin artistic- 
ally done in India ink on thin leaves of birch 
bark, and would have graced any table in 
New York. 

I never sat at a table in New York, but I 
just know they never had a handsomer 
menu card. The toasts were classic, and in- 
cluded a poem by Dr. Coffin, which was also 
of a classical character. I cannot refrain 
from quoting one or two stanzas of the lat- 
ter, on account of their sentiment as well as 



literary merit. The verses were well re- 
ceived and delivered with startling effect. 

Now just a few things I would like to say 
To make us remember this Christmas Day 
It isn't very often you dine with a Coffin, 
When the cook and baker is an undertaker. 

Now and again on a bill of choice fare 
You find such a dish as roasted black bear ; 
But outside of the valley of the Kowak river 
You will not eat pate de poisson de liver.* 

Or white Touste bake and Ukluk roast 
Are rarely served without Arctic frost. 
On these hot mince pies there have been no 

flies, 
For our pastry-maker is an undertaker, etc., etc. 

Now on your memories we would make a mark 
With a plain, simple piece of brown birch bark ; 
On one side a picture of the place we are at, 
And a list of the stuff that we ate as we sat. 

This is by no means the whole of the poem, 
but it is enough to intimate its character. 
It is Christinas and we are ice-bound. The 
day of all the days in a man's life, when he 
would naturally be blue, has been mutually 
cheered by those who, but for this digres- 
sion, would have suffered under the circum- 
stances. The feast lasted for two hours, and 
was followed by, songs and instrumental 
music. Cox and I were waiters, Harry 
Reynolds served and C. C. cooked. After 
the banquet we four were waited on by four 
of the Hanson boys, who took everything 
into their own hands. Normandin estab- 
lished himself as cook and Joe Jury as head 
waiter, with Hays and Jack Messing under 
his charge. They made a combination so 
witty and droll in everything they did that 
we could scarcely eat for a time. We 
finally succeeded all too well for our subse- 
quent comfort. Fun and frolic and candies 
and nuts occupied attention for an hour, the 
party at last breaking up with the singing 
of several church hymns. 

On Saturday before Christmas the natives 
were all gathered in, as well as the whites, 
and we served the former a " big feed," 
afterwards exhibiting a brilliant Christmas 
tree and the venerable Santa Claus. Every- 
one took part in contributing toys and so 
forth to the children. There were dolls, 
tops, whistles, jumping-jacks, cooky people, 
nuts, candy, etc. It would take a whole note 
book to describe this part of the Christmas 



''Pie of fish liver. 



46 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



festivities on the Kowak how the old peo- 
ple awkwardly tried to use knives and forks 
in eating, and how Santa Glaus was greeted, 
and the wooden dolls, and all the rest. Some 
of the dolls fell to our boys. I am sure they 
reminded us of home. After the tree the 
natives danced, the girls in a graceful man- 
ner, and the boys representing fights or 
something of the kind, all the while being 
accompanied by a beating of tin cans, 
stamping and monotonous singing. There 
were thirty Indians and as many white men 
present. 



Jan. 7, 1899. Last 
week we were sur- 
prised by what we 
took at first for an 
Arctic apparition. 
Uncle S., whom 
everyone had given 
up for dead, arrived, 
accompanied by the 
missionaries from 
Cape Blossom, Mr. 
and Mrs. Samms. 
They had come up 
with dog sledges. 
Uncle S. had brought 
mail from St. 




At High Noon. 



Michaels, and the load was very heavy, 
there being two hundred and fifty pounds of 
mail alone. He had but nine dogs, and left 
most of the mail at Kotzebue Camp, where 
the snow was too deep to travel further with 
it. He and Mr. and Mrs. Samms pushed on 
up here, and, as all were pretty tired, 
several of the boys volunteered to go down 
to the Kotzebue Camp, which is sixty miles 
below us, for the mail and other sled. I was 
a volunteer, along with several from the 
Hanson Camp as well as of this, as we were 
all anxious to get the delayed mail. But a 
few hours later, when we began to realize 
what a hard trip it would be, everyone 
backed down until only Cox and I were left. 
These boys stood on the burning deck, and 
made believe they didn't care, especially as 
that brave little missionary woman had just 
made a trip over the same road of more than 
two hundred miles and on foot. 

That same day Joe Cogan and Sam Col- 
clough came along on their way to the Alias- 
hook. They had a team of eight dogs, but, 
after inquiring of all the natives, they found 
they could obtain no more dog's food, nor 
is there any along the river above here. So 
as they were going to start back down the 
next day, Cox and I decided to go with 



them. I did not relish the anticipation of 
the trip at all, and, now that it is over, I 
must say that it is the hardest journey I 
ever hope to make. We returned last night, 
having been on foot for seven days, making 
one hundred and twenty miles of very, very 
hard walking. 

We had five dogs from here; these, with 
Cogan's, made thirteen. We loaded our 
blankets and clothing on Cogan's sled and 
hitched up the thirteen dogs to it in a line. 
The sled was a very heavy one and the load 
resembled it. It went all right until we got 
on some sand-bars about a mile below the 
Hanson Camp, and there our trouble began. 
The snow was light and the heavy runners 
cut through to the gravel beneath, making 
hard pulling. We were trying our best to 
get over when the sled struck a rock, and, 
in dragging it off, two of the standards 
broke off at the runner. Of course we had 
to return, leaving the load cached on the 
trail. At the Hanson Camp we got some 
wire and necessary tools, and by this time 
it was afternoon. The San Jose crew of the 
Hanson Camp must have us stop for dinner, 
and it was a fine one, too, with the immedi- 
ate future ahead of us. Had we not been 
thus refreshed, I do not think we could have 
made the Jesse Lou Camp that night. Col- 
clough declared our bad luck was all on ac- 
count of the dogs, thirteen in number, so we 
borrowed two more and also another sled. 
The dogs pull much better in small teams 
and we now made good time. They carry 
their bushy tails curled up gracefully over 
their backs, and trot along the trail with 
ears erect and pointed forward, the very pic- 
ture of lively animation. It was three 
o'clock by the time we got our second start 
and darkness was soon upon us. Besides, 
it was cloudy, with no moon, and snow was 
falling. Light snow had fallen to the depth 
of four or five inches, obscuring the old trail 
so that we soon lost it. And then our fun 
began. It is twelve miles from the Hanson 
to the Jesse Lou Camp, and it was not until 
ten o'clock that we came around the bluff at 
the latter camp. The snow-covered river 
bed was a uniform blank whiteness, bor- 
dered by the dark line of willows and 
spruces, and whoever was in the lead had 
nothing to guide him but kept as near as he 
could between the banks. 

Occasionally the sleds would meet and 
grapple with snags and rocks or sand-bars 
with little snow on them, and then we 
would have to strike off at right angles. 
Just before we reached our destination for 



GOLD BUNTING IN ALASKA. 



47 



the night, we got into a large field of broken 
ice in which we floundered about for half an 
hour. The ice was in plates or narrow strips 
an inch or less in thickness, all up on edge, 
jammed thus when the river had first frozen 
over. These sharp plates mostly leaned 
obliquely up stream and stuck out of the 
snow as high as two feet, with gaps and 
holes between. We had a dreadful time. 
Our sled tipped over and the dogs dragged it 
on its side for several yards before we could 
stop them and fix the pack again. And then 
our shins! We could 
not see a thing, and 
sometimes a step would 
be down into a hole 
and the next step on top 
of a sharp edge of ice. If 
I fell down once I did 
twenty times. Cox had 
never worn muckluks be- 
fore, and it was particu- 
larly hard on his feet. 
By the time we got to 
camp we were tired 
enough to lie down any- 
where, whether we froze 
to death or not. 

We were warmly wel- 
comed at the, first of the 
three Jesse Lou cabins 
which we struck, and 
they got us a hot supper 
and fixed our beds in true 
Kowak hospitality. It was New Year's Eve, 
1899, before we got to bed. 

By nine the next morning we were off 
again. The next halt was an Indian igloo 
thirty miles below. Before we had gone a 
third of the way my legs began to pain me 
so that I walked with difficulty. One of 
them was strained by a fall on the ice the 
night before, and I was in absolute torture 
all day. It was my first real suffering. 
Finally, when we had gone about fifteen 
miles, as it was getting dark and we did not 
care for a repetition of the previous night's 
experience, we made camp. Cogan had a 
tent and stove, and his companion was a 
" rustler." A patch of snow was soon 
scraped off and the tent put up. But it took 
a long time to heat the interior above the 
freezing point. Too much of the exterior 
gets into a tent. 

It was forty degrees below zero that night 
and the next day. After one has perspired 
a good deal during the day he soon chills 
when he stops, if he forgets to put on more 
clothes. I had a big reindeer parka and also 



a j>air of huge deerskin mittens. Without 
the latter I should surely have frozen my 
hands. The dogs ate up Cox's leather-cov- 
ered mittens, and I gave him one of my 
pairs. The pair I wore got soaked with 
sweat and then froze on my hands as hard 
as a rock. If I had not happened to have 
the deerskin mitts to change with, I might 
have lost a few of my extra fingers. Cox 
did blister his. Colclough got up some hot 
flapjacks and bacon and we were filled. I 
slept in the parka and kept pretty warm. 




The Jesse Lou Camp. 

The rest occupied the big deerskin sleeping 
bag, which is the only safe bed in an Arctic 
camp. 

CHAPTER XIII. 

OUR midwinter trip for the mail was a 
chapter in our icy history never to be 
forgotten. We made the next fifteen 
miles to the Indian Igloo in good time. Cox 
and I slept in the igloo, but the rest in the 
tent. The fourth day we made the last fif- 
teen miles to the Kotzebue Camp, where the 
sled and mail had been left. Besides the 
mail, there were two pipes about twenty 
feet long and weighing perhaps one hundred 
pounds each. Then there were our blankets 
and extra clothes and dog food, bringing 
the return load up to four hundred pounds 
for our six dogs. Cogan and Colclough went 
on down to the Riley wreck with all their 
belongings, so we had no stove or tent for 
the return trip, trusting to good weather in 
making the long stretches. There is only 
one cabin at the Kotzebue Camp, and this a 



48 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



very small one, but we managed to find 
room to lie down somewhere. We also made 
a big stew of canned beef, dessicated. pota- 
toes and onions, with lots of pepper and 
sage. It was good and stimulating, and 
upon this we based our courage. It was a 
fine base. We found the load pretty heavy 
for the dogs, one of which wasn't of much 
account, and our progress was slow. Where 
the snow was deep and the trail rough we 
had to help some ourselves. An animal with 
four feet has much advantage over a human 
with but two. We made the return trip in 
three days, fifteen miles from the Kotzebue 
Camp to the igloo, thirty miles from the 
igloo to the Jesse Lou, and fifteen miles 







Winter Travelers. 

from there to the Penelope Camp, making 
one hundred and twenty miles in seven days. 
By the third day out my limbs became ac- 
customed to the hard walking and my lame- 
ness disappeared. The thirty-mile stretch we 
made in twelve hours, starting from the ig- 
loo before daylight. The northern lights 
were not visible during our return trip, al- 
though previously one could read by them. 
The cold was not excessive nor did we meet 
with any terrible accidents, but I will record 
that I have had enough of winter travel in 
the Arctics. I am of the same mind as Hard- 
luck Jimmy, who, after attempting to reach 
the site of the " latest strike " and getting 
caught out in a snowstorm, said in his slow, 
comprehensive manner of speech: " It 
would take all the men in Ambler City with 
a great big hawser to pull me away from my 
warm cabin and grub again this winter." 

The thirty-mile stretch of our road was 
long. No change of scenery for entertain- 
ment. When we got around one bend in the 
river it was just to plod along until we got 



to the next. It took three hours for us to 
cover one straight piece of trail. We ate 
nothing that day but a little frozen bread. 
We had nothing to cook, and there was no 
time to cook it if we had, and no dishes or 
stove. But we were served to a fine sup- 
per at the Jesse Lou. The dogs did finely that 
day. We gave them a feed in the morning 
before starting. Usually dogs are fed but 
once a day, at night, and then only about one 
pound of frozen or dried fish to the animal. 
At night we let the dogs loose and, if at a 
village, they forage around for scraps of 
anything, which of course are extra rations. 
They steal any provisions left unprotected. 
They ate Cox's leather mittens, the thongs 
on Cogan's snowshoea, 

and a leather gun case. 

One night they broke into 
the "grub-box," and got 
away with everything in 
it, including a sack of 
oatmeal and a side of 
bacon. Owing to their 
preference for leather, 
we had to sleep on the 
harnesses and with our 
heads on the " grub-box." 
These Eskimo dogs look 
just like wolves, but are 
docile and often playful. 
They do not bark like 
civilized dogs, but snarl 
and growl. Some nignts 
they would howl in con- 
cert for hours at a time, making a weird 
sensation in the silence of the ice. 

In sledding, the dogs are tied by their har- 
ness strings alternately to a straight lead- 
rope. One dog is " leader," and he is the 
most intelligent of the pack. During the 
trip Cox walked about a hundred yards 
ahead of the lead dog, now and then turning 
back and whistling or calling. I walked be- 
hind, keeping the sled straight, and un- 
tangling the team when it got mixed up. 
Each dog has a name, and his character 
qualities become as well known to us as 
those of a human individual. Ours were 
named Eniik, Kubuck, Auboon, Nanuk and 
Tingle. One day Emik jumped on to the 
dog that was not pulling his share and gave 
him a sound whipping. The whple pack 
joined in and I had to beat them off with a 
club. 

Ordinary animals would have died of 
broken bones, but it took a " sore chastise- 
ment " to bring these dogs to their senses. 
Fights are frequent and always mean two 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



49 



or three minutes' delay in untangling the 
lines. The harnesses are provided with 
swivels or else the lines would soon become 
hopelessly twisted. 

The two pipes I mentioned as part of the 
load, stuck out behind some eight feet be- 
yond the sled, and many a time when the 
dogs slowed up suddenly my shins would 
come in contact with the sharp iron in a 
painfully emphatic manner. The crunching 
of the dry snow under the sled runners is a 
combination of sounds in which one can but 
imagine he hears familiar voices, and one 
falls to day-dreaming as he plods along, un- 
til he is surprised by running 
against the slacking sled or step- 
ping into a hole. 

The two nights we spent in 
the Eskimo igloo were interest- 
ing in detail. On the way down 
I was so tired that I paid little 
attention to anything, curling 
up and thankfully sleeping. On 
the return trip we made the 
igloo just at dusk. The trail 
was poor and the snow deep and 
the load heavy, so that we had 
made scarcely more than two 
miles to the hour. When we got 
within sight, of the igloo the 
dogs pricked up their ears, as is 
their wont, and started forward 
at an increasing gait. Dogs 
will sometimes smell a camp 
long before it comes into view, 
and their quickened pace testi- 
fies to their hope of food. When 
our team rushed up to the igloo, , 
we followed at a trot behind, ' 
and nearly all the inmates hur- 
ried out, curious to see us. These poor 
people are very hospitable, and at once 
invited us inside. We did not enter, 
however, until everything was attended 
to, for, after one has straightened out 
to rest before a warm fire, it is very 
hard to get up and crawl out again on stiff- 
ened limbs to attend to duties easier per- 
formed before one settles down. The native 
boys helped us to untie knots, and soon the 
dogs were loose, scurrying everywhere for 
bits of anything devourable, and frequently 
having a savage fight over some imaginary 
tidbit. Everything but the two iron pipes, 
which we trusted the dogs would not eat, 
was deposited on the scaffold for the night. 
This scaffold is a necessary feature of every 
igloo. It consists of a platform of poles and 
boughs raised about eight feet above the 



ground and supported on four posts. On 
this are stored all the fish, skins, nets, har- 
nesses, sleds, kyaks, and, in fact, every 
article not needed for immediate use in the 
igloo. 

After the dogs were fed, we took a blanket 
apiece and crawled into the igloo. We were 
motioned to a vacant place on one side, 
where we stretched out as far as the limits 
of the room permitted. This igloo was built 
like a Sioux wick-i-up. Long, slender poles 
are fastened into the ground at one end, 
bent over and lashed with thongs on the op- 
posite side. These are planted about a foot 




Native Igloo, with Scaffold for Stores. 



apart all around, until the whole completed 
frame is like an inverted hemisphere. Over 
this are fastened thicknesses of spruce bark 
stripped from the trees in sheets one or two 
feet wide and twice as long. At the top a 
circular opening is left, a foot in diameter, 
for the exit of smoke. The whole structure 
is covered and packed with six inches of 
snow, which effectually keeps out every bit 
of wind and incidentally every particle of 
fresh .air, except what steals in through the 
smoke-hole and door jvhen they are open. 
The entrance is closed by several strips of 
sail-cloth attached above and weighted, so 
that it always hangs over the opening and 
completely covers it. When one enters he 
must get down on his hands and knees and. 
lifting up a corner of this canvas door, crawl 
through the passage. The door falls .bad: 



50 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



into its place behind. The passageway is so 
narrow and low that a large man can with 
difficulty crawl through. The floor inside, 
with the exception of a space around the 
fireplace, is carpeted with slender willow 
saplings, laid parallel and fitted closely to- 
gether, forming a fairly good paving or 
heavy matting, sufficient to protect the occu- 
pants from direct contact with the ground. 
A few old deerskins are spread out where 
the elders sleep. The space on the opposite 
side of the fireplace from the door is not 
occupied by anyone, but is filled with cook- 
ing utensils, the water bucket with its 
wooden dipper, carved wooden bowls, and 
birch bark baskets. In this igloo about 




Getting 1 Supper Under Omiak-puk. 

twelve feet" in diameter fifteen people live 
almost all the time, only going outside when 
they must for wood and water. No books to 
read, no politics to discuss, no school to get 
ready for, and no visiting to do. Ori.ce in 
this residence, we were allotted a space next 
to the oldest man of the igloo. We were con- 
tent with our small lot, for we were tired 
and hungry. 

The light was furnished from seal oil. A 
plate of this, with a pinch of moss for a 
wick, furnished the light. The penetrating 
smell of burning seal oil is very stifling, and 
a white man can hardly stand it. Consider- 
ing our distinguished character, these people 
dispensed with the oil and lighted candles 
instead, which I suppose had been obtained 
from the whites by tr^ade. Our scanty grub- 
bag next claimed our attention and, consid- 
ering it good policy under the peculiar cir- 
cumstances, we distributed the remainder of 
the hardtack, which had been reduced to 
crumbs, among our hosts, who watched our 
every movement. We also had a little flour, 
but, as we had no means of cooking it, we 



presented that also to the woman on the far 
side of the igloo, who was apparently the 
mistress of ceremonies; for, although three 
other women were in the house, she carried 
all the water, chopped all the wood and pre- 
pared the meals. We made our supper from 
a can of corned beef and a loaf of bread, 
baked for us at the Kotzebue camp. Seeing 
our destitution, with true American hospi- 
tality the woman before mentioned left the 
igloo and shortly returned with a birch-bark 
basket about eighteen inches long by six 
inches wide full of a frozen mass of blue- 
berries. This was evidently a " company 
dish," the best in her possession. She de- 
tached a large chunk of the preserves and 
placed it in a frying pan over the fire. As it 
melted into individual berries she stirred the 
mixture constantly. After the mess was 
thoroughly melted she passed the pan over 
to me, and, by the smell which arose, I was 
aware that the blueberries were put up in 
seal oil, as a sort of salad, I suppose. Cox 
declared his appetite lacked severity suf- 
ficient to tempt him to even taste the com- 
pound, but I was hungry enough to eat any- 
thing, and partly because I did not want 
to disappoint the motherly old woman, 
who had taken all that trouble to treat 
us to the greatest luxury possible, I ate 
with apparent relish. I did no more nor 
less than hundreds of my people do at 
any civilized banquet or even a meal at 
a friend's, when they pretend to like oys- 
ters or shrimps or anything from sheer 
politeness, the which they thoroughly de- 
test. I got away with the entire panful, 
along with a slab of dried salmon given to 
me by the old man. These kind people evi- 
dently looked upon me as a good-natured, 
hungry little boy whom they enjoyed enter- 
taining out of their natural hospitality of 
heart. I have no doubt my mother will long 
to grasp that old Eskimo woman's hand and 
possibly kiss her ugly but kind features, for 
the sake of her goodness to her " wandering 
boy." 

Truly the fish was not at all bad, and I 
secured a piece for my lunch the next day. 
It proved to be just the thing, as I could 
chew it while tramping along, and one does 
not need water to drink with it. The native 
next to me in the igloo showed me how to 
strip the skin from the piece of dried salmon 
and prepare it for eating. He held the skin 
side over the fire until it began to crinkle 
and writhe.- The oil which it contains is 
thus melted and the dainty rendered more 
toothsome. 




GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



51 



After our hunger was, with these native 
articles of food besides our. own bread and 
corned beef, sufficiently subdued, we 
stretched out as far as possible in our 
limited space. Cox was soon asleep. We 
agreed that in order to make the thirty miles 
next day it would be necessary to start be- 
fore daylight, as there was then a waning 
moon to light us a little. Cox was especially 
impressed with this idea, and went to sleep 
determined to wake up the minute the moon 
rose, which would be about five in the morn- 
ing. He had scarcely been asleep ten min- 
utes, and I had not dozed off yet, when he 
started up, and I had all I could do to per- 
suade him that the night had hardly begun. 

Later, and until we finally did start, he 
woke me several times and would go out and 
look for the moon, which he was sure was 
behind the schedule time. We could not see 
the trail until it did appear, so each time he 
would return and drop to sleep again. This 
crazy conduct on his part vexed me not a 
little, as I wanted to sleep, being prevented 
by other disturbances besides his own. 

After we had eaten our supper and got 
settled down, the other people ate theirs, 
which consisted entirely of dried salmon. 
This was eaten raw, each mouthful being 
chewed for a long time. The young men say 
that this kind of diet is what makes the 
Kowak-mitts (natives of the Kowak valley) 
so strong. I must confess to the apparent 
truth of this statement, for the whole house 
knows it when an Eskimo enters; that is, if 
there hasn't been one around long enough 
to have allowed an airing. Even the pretty 
girls are so fishy that a tenderfoot in this 
land can scarcely endure their remote pres- 
ence. The salmon is cured during the sum- 
mer and kept on scaffolds, being brought 
down only as it is required for use. The old 
men soak it up in water a while before eat- 
ing it. 

Directly after their simple supper the na- 
tives began arranging themselves in their 
proper nooks in any place where there was 
room enough to lie down. The men and older 
women and all the children in the igloo wore 
nothing but skin pants, being entirely 
naked from the waist up. At night, how- 
ever, they put on their skin parkas, as the 
temperature in the room falls quickly when 
the fire goes out. When all are ready, the 
woman of the household goes outside and 
covers up the smoke-hole in the top of the 
house with an old skin, and besides piles 
snow over it thickly so not a particle of cold 
can get in. The fire in the center of the 



room has meanwhile been allowed to burn 
down to a bed of coals, so there is no smoke 
or flame left. In returning the woman also 
tightly closes the doorway. If any air is get- 
ting in anywhere one can see the stream of 
dense vapor caused by the extremely cold 
outside air striking the warm, moist air of 
the interior. If the door is left the least bit 
ajar a stream of this vapor is seen flowing 
along the floor straight into the fire. If 
one's feet meet this current of cold they 
soon chill. After the coals are heaped to- 
gether and all other preparations for the 
night completed, the light is extinguished 
and sleep reigns. For a while after the igloo 
has been closed the air seems extremely hot 
and stifling and the odors are terrific. In 
an hour or two the fire is dead and the air 
cools off. 

My night's rest might have been quite 
sound but for certain disturbances. I had 
just dozed off after being aroused by Coxie, 
when one of the men began to sing some 
Eskimo ditty in a weird monotone. He 
would drone it through and stop, and I 
would just be dropping off to sleep when he 
would start it up again. He continued for 
fully half an hour, and I was so thoroughly 
tried by it that I could have choked the fel- 
low. The natives all slept soundly and 
probably considered it a lullaby. Another 
time I was awakened by the old man next 
to me singing in a high, jerky voice. He 
got up, all the time singing, and went over 
to the old woman, who was saying some- 
thing to him. Then followed a series of the 
most diabolical noises hisses, swishes, 
grunts, groans, guttural rattles and so forth. 
It hardly seemed possible that some of these 
sounds could originate in a human throat, 
but as they were without intermission, I sup- 
pose they did. This was finally interrupted 
by a loud, ripping swish, as if something had 
been forcibly torn up. All was then quiet, 
and the old man returned and lay down 
next to me. I did not know but he would 
practice his incantations upon me next, but 
my fears were groundless. During the 
creepy performance it was pitch dark, and 
I could almost imagine we were about to be 
sacrificed in some heathen rite. I asked one 
of the young men what was the matter, and 
he told me that the woman had a pain in her 
stomach, probably from swallowing her sal- 
mon in too much haste, and the old man 
had cured her by driving the demon out 
This practice is like that I have heard my 
father say existed among the Comanche 
Indians in the Southwest. 



52 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



At last, after one of his frequent observa- 
tions, Coxie reported that the moon was up. 
The candle was lighted and we soon had all 
our traps out of the igloo. Our mitts, scarfs, 
socks, etc., had been hung up to dry. The 
dryer one's clothes are, the warmer he 
keeps. Rain is not necessary to dampness 
either, perspiration every walking moment 
being free and persistent. We soon had the 
dogs hitched up, all but one, Nanuk, who 
caused us considerable delay by running off 
into the brush and hiding himself. Finally 
after several of the natives had helped, he 
was secured and our pack arranged. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

GAMP PENELOPE, Jan. 10, 1899. Yes- 
terday morning Uncle S. and Samms 
started on up the river with their dog 
sleds and mail. C. C. and Cox went with 
them. They hope to reach the Upper Pen- 




The Departure. 

elope Camp and learn as much as they can 
of the outlook and the wish of the men as to 
segregation in the spring. They will have 
no easy trip of it, but C. C. seems to covet 
experience in winter traveling, and I think 
he will be the recipient of it this time. 

When Cox and I got in with the mail, all 
the neighbors crowded into our cabin and 
there was general excitement until the sacks 
were gone through and the fate of each de- 
termined. Nearly everyone got letters. The 
latest news was dated August 22, and we 
had full accounts as to the probable closing 
of the war. I received six letters. Down at 
Kotzebue Camp I opened only one of these, 
the one of the latest date, and found it so 
bright and jolly that my spirits were at the 



highest pitch all the way home. Moral: Folks 
at home, write cheery letters to absent ones 
wherever they may be. The snow may be 
deep, and the dogs may be mad, and the 
trail rough. 

We are beginning to talk about "going 
home." and of the probability of our cold 
welcome among our town's folk, who will 
possibly ridicule us as " fake gold-hunters," 
"prodigal sons," and all that. I was read- 
ing an article in one of the magazines last 
night, proving that an ambitious poor man 
nowadays has far more chances for success 
in any line than a rich one, and that " ex- 
treme poverty does not debar a man other- 
wise endowed, from entrance into the best 
society in the land." This in America of 
course. So we are saying in concert, while 
the latest news of gold fades into vapor, 
" Poverty is a blessing." It's a comfort to 
look at it in that light anyway. But it does 
not help some of our boys over the blues. 
Several put all they had into this venture, 
and on - their return 
are destined to start 
all over again at day's 
work. I must own 
that I am myself the 
victim of some reluct- 
ance to return with 
empty gold-pan, and 
the old story of put- 
ting " gold into the 
fire and behold there 
came forth this calf " 
comes to me. We may 
have sufficient sup- 
plies to keep us in 
Alaska another year. 

Uncle S. is one man 
that is making a suc- 
cess. He charges fifty 

cents for each letter or package he brings up 
the river. My bill would have been six dol- 
lars at that rate, but of course my trip down 
more than met that. The doctor got twen- 
ty-four letters and many papers. Don't 
know whether he has settled his bill or not. 
Mrs. Samms is with us until the return of 
Mr. Samms, which will be not less than 
three weeks if the weather is good. It seems 
odd to have a lady in the cabin, but she is 
very agreeable and we like her company. 
We modify our usual reckless behavior and 
serve her in every possible way. 

She is teaching a class of children at the 
mission cabin. Mr. Samms is on an errand 
to get a census of native population and to 
note the condition of the Kowak Eskimos. 




GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



53 






There is likely to be a famine among them 
before spring, as they have spent too much 
time in watching the whites this year, neg- 
lecting to fish and hunt at the season. 
There is now little game in the country ^ and 
by next winter they will be destitute in 
clothing as well as food unless they receive 
help from outside. 

Jan. 11, 6 a. m. The doctor and I have 
just got out of bed, hours before the usual 
time of rising. We think we can write bet- 
ter, or read, early in the morning before 
everybody is up and story-telling and mak- 
ing noises in the room. When we are all 
active it is difficult to think. 

The north wind is blowing a 

gale again, and its steady roar 
through the spruces outside, ac- 
companied by the monotonous 
whisper or undertone whistling 
doAvn the stovepipe, gives one a 
lonesome, dreary feeling. I almost 
shivered just now all on account 
of the sounds, although there is a 
blazing fire in the heater and the 
whole cabin is warm and comfort- 
able. 

We have had no trouble in keep- 
ing warm. In the corners near 
the ground there is always plenty 
of frost, and if one sits or stands 
long in such a locality his feet get 
cold. But out in the room it is al- 
ways pleasant. We have not put 
in double windows, as we ex- 
pected to do, there being no need 
of them. The single large sheet of glass in 
each window is all-sufficient, though the 
frost collects in very thick layers on the 
inside. This is probably one reason why it 
is so warm. We took out the window panes 
the other day and melted off the ice. It was 
nearly two inches thick on the lower part. 
The panes are over two feet square, and 
the frost work on them is beautiful to look 
at. The designs are constantly changing. 
Sometimes great fern fronds extend from 
the bottom clear to the top, and then another 
time the pattern is small, like delicate moss. 
When it is thick one can see cities and 
mountain crags and almost anything besides, 
if his imagination is alert. 

The days are perceptibly longer now and 
yesterday sunlight touched the tops of the 
trees near the cabin. But it will be many 
weeks before the sun has sufficient effect to 
make any change in the temperature. Mrs. 
Sanmis says that February is our coldest 



month. We are getting along quite harmo- 
niously in domestic affairs now. C. C.'s 
term of office as culinary chief expired at 
Christmas, and Rivers was elected -to take 
his place, with myself as assistant. So I am 
back at my old stand again. There's one 
thing certain we shall have less pies now. 
I think I shall be able to obtain a place as 
cook in a restaurant when I go back to the 
States if nothing better turns up. Our sup- 
ply of some articles is getting short. We are 
going slow on mush and sugar, and the flour 
will not last longer than April at the rate 
we are using it now. However, our motto is 
to eat while we have the means, and go 




Some of Mrs. Samms' Pupils. 

without when it is gone. Of course there is 
plenty in the " Penelope," if she is safe. We 
have a great deal of company at meals. 
Everyone traveling on the river stops in, 
either for a single meal or for the night. 
We like to be hospitable, and one has to be 
in this country. Wherever our own boys 
have -been, up or down the river, they are 
treated royally at every camp, as I can per- 
sonally testify. 

We do not feed the Indians any more at 
all, and it is better for them. They have 
become so dependent upon the whites that 
they do not work for themselves any more. 
When they might be fishing or trapping, 
they are hanging around our cabins. They 
do not visit us as often now as in the fall. 
Rivers and I send them outside whenever 
meal-time comes, and they are beginning to 
learn. ' We must do this or suffer ourselves 
from hunger in a late spring. 

Uncle S. reported that he found the " Pen- 



54 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



elope " in a safe place in a small inlet in 
Escholtz Bay. We received letters from the 
captain and Jett and Fancher. They have 
been on a sled trip up to the Buckland River, 
but with no success. However, they are in 
good spirits, hoping that something will be 
found before spring. Rumors reach us as to 
" finds " on the Noatak River, but we do not 
pay the least attention to them. The " Fly- 
ing Dutchman " dropped in on us again 
yesterday. He is a " rustler," and will make 
it pay under any circumstances. He has 
more grit than all the rest of the men on 
the Kowak. He has a partner now in carry- 
ing mail, and a sled with dogs. 

Jan. 15, Sunday, 6 a. m. I am up alone. 
The doctor is a great fellow to lie in bed, 




On the River Bank. 

excepting on rare occasions, when he is very 
smart. He even takes his afternoon nap 
regularly, and then sleeps ten hours at 
night. The wind is blowing at the same 
rate it has been going for a week. One day 
it was a fearful storm. It blew so one could 
scarcely stand up against it, and the snow 
and sand were driven along in blinding 
blasts. 

We can easily see now how the hills 
and dunes on the south side of the Kowak 
valley are formed. It blows with such force 
that all the snow is taken off from the sand- 
bars, and all the loose sand as well, and 
finally the coarse gravel is driven off on to 
the ice, where it travels until it reaches the 
south bank of the river, where drifts ten feet 
deep have been formed the last week. The 



natives tell us that in two moons from this 
the wind will blow harder than ever, and 
that it will be much colder. Yesterday we 
piled more sand and brush around the north 
and east side of the house. The wind had 
carried away a good deal of the original 
banking. The doctor was quite snowed into 
his bed one morning. We couldn't find the 
place of entrance, but it is now doubtless 
covered. 

Yesterday was washing-day for me person- 
ally. We do our washing one at a time for 
reasons of necessity. I had a large wash, 
as a part of it had been accumulating since 
August of last year. It is our habit to put 
off this very disagreeable duty as long as we 
decently can. I put in two faithful hours 
over the tub until my knuckles were sore 
and my back so lame I 
could only with diffi- 
culty straighten myself. 
I succeeded at last in 
" doing " ten pairs of 
socks, seven handker- 
chiefs, three towels and 
a suit of underwear, be- 
sides other .things. I 
can now sympathize 
most heartily with the 
washerwoman of his- 
tory. I have the clothes 
drying on the rafters 
above the stovepipe. 
The union suit is an 
awkward thing to 
handle in washing." I 
would rather tackle a 
blanket. A blanket has 
not two arms and two 
legs to be continually 
in the way. I could not 

wring it out very well, and after hanging it 
up to dry it dripped for several hours, sprink- 
ling anyone who ventured under it. Uncle 
Jimmy sat down comfortably to read a good 
book, but he chanced to be in the line of 
gravity, and a splash on top of his bald head 
prompted him to address some words to me. 
It was only a few days ago that Uncle 
Jimmy's washing was " out," and I fre- 
quently had the edifying sensation of a 
sloppy, dripping drawers leg slapping me in 
the face as I moved about the kitchen stove 
in my culinary duties. We have to be pa- 
tient and charitable when it is washing 
day, and other days. I will say that our do- 
mestic life is not often marred by so small a 
trifle as water dripping from a drawers leg. 
If we were sensitive to little things we 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



55 



would find frequent opportunity for grum- 
bling. 

Jan. 23, 9 a. m. Just got through with 
breakfast. Our menu is much the same 
these days corn-meal mush, biscuit or 
flapjacks, hash, bacon, flour gravy and cof- 
fee. Kowak hash is a work of art, and is 
deserving of especial mention. It is a sort 
of literary review of the previous day's 
dishes. This morning it was simpler than 
usual, and consisted of only split peas, corn- 
meal mush, bacon, rice, toasted bread, salt- 
horse and beans, seasoned to taste. And 
yet the " beasts " claim their appetite is im- 
paired! Needn't have eaten up all the lux- 
uries the first thing. 

Several of the boys like to go out visiting 
the other camps in the evening, and not get 
home till morning " or thereabouts." I am 
a " good little boy," and go to bed at nine 
and get up at six. I have the breakfast 
ready shortly after eight, and then the fun 
begins, getting the boys up. They want to 
lie in bed till twelve, and Uncle Jimmy joins 
us in making it so uncomfortable for them 
they prefer rising. 

Harry Reynolds is washing to-day. He 
has just discovered that he has made a sad 
mistake. He dumped his bundle of clean 
socks into the tub instead of the soiled ones. 
General laughter at his expense. But H. 
wrings them out " dryly." He knows the 
laugh will not be on him next washing 
day. 

The jolly missionary's wife is singing in 
my ear something . about " Darling Joe." 
Now, she thinks because she happens to be 
married that I must be much younger than 
she in fact " quite a lad." In point of fact 
I am the older. It was my turn to shave 
yesterday, and I did so, consequently my 
chin is smarting. It is an unnatural pro- 
cess, and I think should be prohibited by 
act of congress. 

I have been reading " A Scientific Demon- 
stration of the Future Life," by Hudson. It 
interested me very much, and the doctor 
and I got into many a warm argument over 
it. It is a strange fact that we never argue 
upon subjects we agree upon. I always 
stick to my sharp point and he to his. Our 
discussions are usually on some biological 
topic, and the rest of the men do not know 
what we are talking about. One night, after 
a long argument in which I would not yield 
a single point when the doctor thought I 
ought, he wrote me the following 



ODE. 

Mon ami. Joe, 
A thing I know 
Is, you are Joe. 
Why this is so 
I do not know ; 
But well I know 
You ic ill be Joe, 
Until you go 
From earth below. 

But even so, 
My young friend Joe, 
Before you go 
You'll not be Joe, 
(The same / know) 
For you will grow 
Both old and slow, 
And fall below 
To what you'd grow 
In things to know 
Of what is so. 

On things you know 
And say are so, 
Hard winds will blow, 
And light will grow, 
And change them so 
You will not know 
That they are so. 

And then, by Joe, 
You'll be more slow 
To say you know 
A thing is so. 
'Cause then you'll know 
That what was so 
When you were Joe 
May not be so 
When you're not Joe ; 
And that is so 
Which was not so 
When you were Joe 
Down here below. 

I like you, Joe, 
I'd have you know ; 
And that is so, 
Because you're Joe. 
And be it so, 
Mon ami, Joe, 
As to and fro 
The world you go ; 
That which you know 
Declare 'tis so; 
And so be Joe, 
The Joe I know, 
" Chickadee Joe." 



CHAPTER XV. 

JAN. 23, 2 p. m. I went out to look at the 
thermometer, when I heard the cackling 
of ptarmigan the other side of the river. 
Harry Reynolds and I armed ourselves and 
started out for game. We spotted the flock 



56 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



in a willow thicket where the sun, which 
nowadays is just at the horizon, had prob- 
ably attracted them. Several of the birds 
were perched on top of the bushes, and were 
very conspicuous against the dark sky. We 
sneaked up to them and got a shot. Harry's 
gun got choked with snow and missed fire. 
We followed up the birds and, after two 
hours of hard tramping, I had four shots, 
securing three ptarmigan. The walking was 




Grave Decorations. 

extremely difficult. The snow from the 
tundras northward was deeply drifted along 
the willow thickets. It was packed just 
hard enough on top so that at about every 
other step it would sustain one's weight, 
but the alternate steps would break through 
nearly to one's waist. In some places we 
fell and floundered, and we considered our 
sport rather too well earned, One of my 
cheeks was frosted, but Harry brought it 
out all right by a vigorous rubbing with 
snow. 

It is too cold for hunting. I cannot shoot 
with gloves on, and my bare fingers get 
burned by the cold steel of the hammers and 
triggers. Harry had the doctor's Winchester 
repeating shot-gun Although a fine gun in 
warm weather, it seems to get out of gear 
now. My plain double-barreled Remington 



is the stand-by. I look at it and it seems to 
say, " Wait till spring comes, Joe, and we'll 
get in our work." 

The literary society is as interesting as at 
first. Last Wednesday Joe Jury talked on 
the " Art of Printing." He is a printer by 
trade and has quite a business in San Jose. 
The week before Jack Messing told us about 
the Hawaiian Islands. He was there for 
two months a year ago. Nearly all of us are 
in favor of sailing around and 
visiting our new islands on the 
way home. It is only about two 
thousand miles out of our way. 
Personally I would like to make 
a long cruise and visit the Phil- 
ippines and Ladrones. Several 
of the boys are growing desper- 
ately homesick. Time drags for 
them, and tney are counting the 
days to next July when they can 
get out of the Kowak Valley and 
start for home. I have over- 
heard a couple of them planning 
how they might even now go 
across country to St. Michaels, 
so as to be ready for the first 
steamer in the spring. Enthusi- 
asm is a myth. It was less than 
a year ago that, " No matter 
what happens, we will push on 
into the interior and explore the 
unknown mountains until we 
strike gold." Now it is, " How 
soon can we get home?" Such 
is human nature. 

Everyone is making snowshoes 
or getting the natives to make 
them. I must get a pair as curi- 
osities to send home. The natives 
do nice work, and are improving their oppor- 
tunities to get a good price. They get three 
to five dollars worth of food or clothes for a 
pair of muckluks. Snowshoes bring ten dol- 
lars. Indian Charley has made the doctor a 
nice miniature sled and pair of snowshoes 
for treating him when he was sick. Charley 
shows more gratitude and good-will than 
any other of the natives. But he has some 
great ideas. Last week he worked hard 
from daylight till dark in a cold wind clear 
ing away the trees and brush from his little 
child's grave. He cut down everything 
clean between the grave and the river, say- 
ing this was so " the Kow r ak-mitts traveling 
up and down the river " could see his " mick- 
aninie's " burial-place. He took the tree 
trunks and poles and leaned them together 
over the grave, tepee fashion, so the dogs 



and wolves cannot dig in. He left several 
of the taller trees immediately surrounding 
the grave, and climbed to their tops, trim- 
ming off the branches as he came down. 
He then fastened flags to these poles until 
he had fourteen up, with every prospect of 
more. He used everything, such as sail- 
cloth, handkerchiefs and sacks. We thought 
if he kept on he might have all the clothes 
he possessed fluttering in the wind like a 
Monday morning wash, only the clothes 
lines were perpendicular instead of horizon- 
tal. We remonstrated with him, telling him 
the " cabloonas " never put flags over their 
graves; but he insisted .that he wanted to 
make this spot conspicuous so that everyone 
would notice it. The doctor thought of a 
scheme and Clyde put it into operation. He 
made a windmill about four feet in diameter 
and with a big fan. It was well made, and 
took Clyde two whole days to finish. Char- 
ley was very much pleased with it, and it 
was promptly lashed to the top of the tall- 
est tree, whence resound its mournful 
creaks whenever the wind blows. Charley 
wanted to know if all cabloonas put wind- 
mills over the graves of their dead. Charley 
is very ambitious to do exactly like a white 
man and yet, like many another, he seems 
to think a disregard of native superstitions 
would be disastrous. He asked us yesterday 
if he would die if he should take some little 
pills the doctor gave him for some trifling 
ailment. He said that some Kowak-mitts 
told him so. There is an old woman in the 
middle igloo of the village who keeps these 
natives in such ideas. The sooner she goes 
" mucky " (dead) the better it will be for her 
people. About New Year's an old man at 
her igloo was very sick and was expected to 
die. For fear of having him die in her igloo, 
and thus, as she believed, render the 
house uninhabitable, she turned him out into 
the extreme cold. His son stayed with him 
and made a big fire. As soon as we found 
it out the nearest cabin took the sick man in, 
and did all they could for him, although he 
died in a short time. Women here have a 
harder life than can be imagined. A child 
is never born in an igloo, but, no matter how 
cold the weather is, the mother is driven out, 
not to return with her child until it is five 
days old. There have been three such cases 
so far near us. The last was during a ten- 
days' windstorm. The woman went alone 
back into as sheltered a place as she could 
find in the woods, and made a screen of 
spruce boughs to protect her from the storm. 
In front of this she kept a small fire burning 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



57 




Native Sweethearts. 



and there she remained with but little cloth- 
ing all the bitter days of her allotted time. 
An old woman occasionally visited her and 
brought her food and wood. The baby froze 
to death. 

Jan. 28. Who should drop in on us night 
before last but three of our boys from the 
upper camp, Miller 
Casey and Alec. They 
report everyone in 
good health, but the 
gold outlook is alto- 
gether " nil." All the 
reports have been 
run down and there 
is no encouragement 
offered anywhere. 
The boys staked out 
fifteen claims in the 
districts which 
showed "indications." 
Holes have been dug, 
but in a few feet they 
strike water and can 
go no further. This 
report is for the late 
fall. C. C. and Mr. 
Samms had just ar- 
rived when the boys left. Uncle S. and 
Samms had seven out of their nine dogs 
killed by poison in some unexplained way 
at one of the camps. They bought five more 
at the Riley Camp for fifty dollars. Our 
dog Tingle was among 
the killed. C. C. and 
Samms intended to go 
twenty-five miles further 
to a village at the Par 
River. This party will 
remain with us until the 
return of C. C. They 
came down "just to kill 
time." They say it is 
pretty monotonous at the 
other camp. They car- 
ried a pack of about 
thirty pounds each and 
were very tired. Foote 
started with them, but 
gave up half way down. 
Casey and Miller, as well 
as Alec, are jolly good 
fellows and we hope 
they will stay with us a good while. Our 
grub is getting rather low. The boys up 
the river had the larger share. It will 
probably carry them through to July. But 
I think, unless we can borrow from neigh- 







Superstitious Old 
Woman. 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



bors, a delegation of us from this camp will 
have to go down to the " Penelope " at Es- 
choltz Bay and bring supplies. I'm sure it 
will not be I. I shall be here when spring 
opens for the bird migrations. The boys 
report that two of the river steamers are 
lost. They were put into a side stream to 
freeze up for the winter. This stream is fed 
by warm springs which kept running after 
the stream froze over, depositing successive 
layers of ice around the boats until one of 
them is buried entirely out of sight, smoke- 
stack and all. The other, the "Agnes E. 
Boyd," belonging to the Hanson Company, 
is about half buried. If these boats had been 
watched at the start and dams put around 
them and then raised, they could have been 
saved. But now they are entombed in solid 
ice, and, unless they are chopped out before 
spring, the torrents when the thaw comes 
will smash them to pieces. The little 
" Helen " is so far all safe. That slow, 
ugly-looking little scow, which everybody 
made fun of last fall, may be ahead of all 
the big steamers next spring. Already the 
Hanson boys are talking about making ar- 
rangements with us for taking them down 
to the Mission. Thus shall the first be last 
and the last first. The general opinion of 
our boys now seems to be, if nothing is 
found in this country by next July, to sail 
down along the coast to Bristol Bay and 
way stations, inquiring as to the news from 
those sections, and finally taking in the 
Aleutian Islands. This suits my inclina- 
tions. Reports are coming directly from the 
Yukon region that there is nothing to en- 
courage one to go there. It is safe to con- 
clude that newspaper reports are as nine to 
ten exaggerated. There are thousands of 
disappointed people in all sections of cen- 
tral Alaska. Travel is almost impossible. 

Jan. 31, Tuesday. We are having cloudy 
weather with a little snow. The thermom- 
eter stands at ten degrees below zero, and it 
te uncomfortably warm in our winter 
clothes. I shot four ptarmigan yesterday, 
two of which I have just finished skinning. 
I got three at one shot, standing, and the 
other on the wing. The doctor is out now 
hunting the birds. Whenever I get any 
game it excites him so that he immediately 
goes hunting. He seldom starts until I have 
set the example. I do not have success 
oftener than each third hunt. Walking 
through the snow is very tiresome, but one 
must be persistent in this as in other things. 
It seems to be only chance that I ever do 



find the ptarmigan. I usually search for 
fresh tracks along the bushy margins of 
lakes or sloughs and then follow them up. 
Mornings I find them mostly near their 
roosting-places, and they seldom fly far. 
They sleep on the ground, burrowing into 
the snow and clearing a bare wallow on the 
warm, soft moss. It is difficult to see them 
on the snow, and this accounts in part for 
my ill success. Yesterday I ' walked right 
into a flock without seeing them until they 
flew. I also got two pine grosbeaks and two 
redpolls. The days are growing rapidly 
longer. Only three months until the spring 
birds come. 

Sunday there were fifty-seven persons at 
church, including thirty-two white men. A 
stranger conducted the services in C. C.'s 
place. Nothing occurred of an unexpected 
nature excepting the fact that one of our 
boys went to sleep and snored so loud that 
it made us all think we were back in the 
States at church somewhere. Last night we 
had what Kowak boys call a "great blow- 
out." Brownie made a big wad of taffy and 
we ail pulled at it. By the way, three or 
four of us were surprised at Christmas by 
receiving a box each, " straight from home." 
They had been packed and given into the 
care of different persons, so that the re- 
cipient of each box did not suspect that he 
was to have one. By some oversight of the 
party to whom my own was committed, I 
did not get my Christinas box, but am as- 
sured that it is " safe somewhere," and will 
come to light when somebody stumbles over 
it. Dr. Coffin received his on time, and the 
contents have yielded us no end of comfort. 
Brownie drew upon its nuts and crystallized 
fruits for his taffy. After the candy was 
washed off from the table and chairs and 
candle-sticks and faces and hands, we 
played a game of crokonole, which lasted far 
into the night. The result was that I did not 
have breakfast on time. Miller and I 
played the doctor and Rivers, the latter 
combine winning two out of three games 
after a very close struggle. They had the 
" ha-ha " on me. The game finally depended 
on the last shot, which was mine. We both 
had 195 200 to make. There were three 
blacks on. the board and two whites. The 
whites are Miller's and mine. I had a fairly 
good split shot to take off two blacks, which 
would have given us the odd game by a good 
margin. Everyone was talking and the op- 
position was doing its best to " rattle " me. 
Anyhow, by some extraordinary roundabout, 
my shot cleared the board of every white 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



59 



one and put all three blacks in the center 
ring. Oh, but the howl from the enemy! 

Several cases of scurvy are reported along 
the line. One man is nearly dead. It is 
supposed to be due to a sameness of diet and 
two little exercise. Men settle down in their 
cabins and, not being obliged to go out, just 
sleep the time away. Dr. Coffin suspects an- 
other cause. A poor grade of food-stuffs has 
been brought up, probably with adultera- 
tions. Brownie is just now pounding up 
lumps of sugar on the table where I am 
writing. He is using the end of my rolling- 
pin with great effect and much scattering of 
sweetness, much to the delight of several 
Eskimo " mickaninies," who are hav- 
ing an active picnic in consequence. 

Feb. 2. C. C. and party have re- 
turned, whole but tired. Besides 
C. C., Cox and Mr. Samms, there are 
four fellows from the Upper Agnes 
Boyd Camp, so that we are pretty 
well crowded as to sleeping. I had 
eighteen men to feed for three meals, 
serving them at two tables. I had to 
" rustle " for breakfast this morning. 
Made two. big pans of biscuit, a 
kettle of mush, a mass of salt-horse 
hash, bacon and gravy. The repast 
was successful, excepting that the 
gravy was somewhat salty. It is a 
great idea this, my cooking for eigh- 
teen men, after I have declared 
" quits " so many times. The fellows 
laugh now when I " resign." 

Scurvy and " black-leg " are get- 
ting common up the river. One man 
at the Jesse Lou Camp has died of the 
latter. The " black-leg " is what the doc- 
tors call phlebitis. Black patches ap- 
pear on the lower limbs, which swell and 
become very painful. Many are affected 
and at some of the camps above us 
they have instituted regular " scurvy 
trails," five to ten miles long, which they 
tramp every day. Exercise and a change of 
food seem to help and also to prevent the 
disease. Those who are suffering have been 
confined to their cabins so long, eating pork 
and beans and baking-powder bread, to the 
exclusion of fruit and fresh meats, that their 
cases are almost hopeless. C. C. reports 
nothing new above. He and Samms visited 
the big Indian village at the Par River. C. C. 
got a black bear skin in trade. Samms took 
a census of the native population and finds 
about four hundred and fifty on the Kowak. 
C. C. had rather a hard trip I guess, but he 



was anxious to get it. Nothing like having 
plenty of hardships to relate on one's return 
home. I expect to do some of the relating 
myself. He is a pretty heavy man and it 
would seem could not endure as much as a 
slender person. But he manages to make it. 
Last night and to-day we have our heaviest 
snowfall. Until a thaw comes to form a 
crust traveling will be difficult. Yesterday 
the literary was well attended. Mr. Young 
of the Iowa Camp, talked on " Butter Mak- 
ing and Creamery Methods," and I on the 
" Bacteria which Assist in the Making of 
Cheese and Butter." Casey sang two comic 
songs, " The Irish Jubilee," and " Put Me 




Home from the Mission. 

Off at Buffalo." Miller sang "Just Behind 
the Times " and " The Queen's Hussars." 
Miller has a fine voice. The literary is 
growing more popular as the season ad- 
vances, and it may well be considered an 
important factor in helping many of us to 
pass the winter profitably. We try to bring 
in subjects which will interest everyone, 
those who are not literarily inclined as well 
as the rest, and I think we have been quite 
successful. It seems to me that the mind 
must be employed in these long winter even- 
ings at different points of Alaska, as a 
means of moral and physical health. The 
doctor and I agree as to this. 

Feb. 4. The other day one of the boys was 
rummaging about among the stores to see 
what he could come across of interest piled 
above the rafters, when he accidentally 
knocked down a box. It fell to the floor and 



60 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



one corner burst open, disclosing the con- 
tents, which were not " Sugar Corn," as the 
label on the end indicated. A very insig- 
nificant legend near one end read " C. C. 
Reynolds." and it was set aside as belong- 
ing to him. Yesterday it was given to C. C., 
who at once recognized it as the very 
Christinas box which had been entrusted to 
him for me before we left home, by my 
mother and sister. He turned it over to me 
with many regrets, etc. It contained every- 
thing that could give pleasure to a boy from 
two years old to twenty-one from tooters 
and jumping-jacks to warm woolen hoods 
and handkerchiefs and books. Stockings 
were stuffed full of candies corked tightly 
in bottles and tin boxes, and nuts were pro- 
fuse. A touch of home-thought mingled 
with the Arctic storms. I wish we had had 
it for Christmas on account of the toys and 
candies, which would have added greatly 
to the presents on the natives' Christmas 
tree. The hoods were especially acceptable. 
They are knit with a piece across the nose, 
openings only for the eyes and mouth, and 
are tied under the chin. They fit like the 
skin itself. The books are all .new to our 
library, which has been pretty thoroughly 
digested by this time. I brought the three 
novels out and they were immediately 
pounced upon. The doctor is reading " A 
Tennessee Judge," Miller " A Kentucky 
Colonel," and Mrs. Samms " Oliver Twist." 
I shall get at them in course of time. 

I have read very little of late aside from 
my physiology. There is a growing faction 
in our company now favoring an expedition 
to the Philippines. We have the " Pen- 
elope " and sufficient supplies to go around 
the world, for that matter. For my part I 
think we ought not to hurry about leaving 
Alaska. Resolutions in regard to prospect- 
ing are dimly waning. Last summer it was, 
"We will stay in Alaska and push on until 
we find gold, if it takes three years." In 
the fall they thought "two years enough." 
Last month it was, " We will prospect all 
summer and start for home as late as the 
boat can leave the Sound." And now it is, 
" How can we the soonest reach home?" 
Several men from up the river are going to 
start overland for St. Michaels. Time, and 
plenty of it, seems to be an antidote for en- 
thusiasm. 




CHAPTER XVI. 

FEB. 8. Mr. and Mrs. Samms left for the 
Mission yesterday. Harry Reynolds 
goes with them, and will either stay 
there or go down to the " Penelope." That 
lessens our number, but we will still have 
eleven in the house. C. C. talks of following 
them later. There will be no more prospect- 
ing done by this company this year, except 
by myself, and that for birds. I got a pair of 
muckluks in trade, and am now bartering 
for a pair of snowshoes. The snow is 
eighteen inches deep and very light and dry, 
I shot four redpolls near the house this 
morning. I would like to see it sixty-five 
degrees below zero just for the experience 
of it. I have already shot ptarmigan at 
forty-four degrees below, and could have 
stood it much colder without wind. 

Feb. 11. It must be admitted that life is 
getting a little humdrum. There is nothing 
in particular to write about unless one has 
a poetic turn. Poetry doesn't come to any 
of us any more. The poetry is wearing off 
from the L. B. & A. M. & T. Co. 

If I were a Mark Twain, with humor to 
relate the doings of people about me, I could 
write a few pages of good reading. Re- 
sources are unlimited to the right person 
applying. The story of our " Fool's Er- 
rand " into this out-of-the-way country, if 
written by an expert, would be as rich a 
theme as one could desire. But alas! I am 
only a bird-hunter by nature, and a gold- 
hunter on the Kowak by grace of my father, 
and am unable to depict the fortunes of this 
crowd in an acceptable manner. There is 
unrest everywhere. All admit that they 
have been duped. Some are making the 
best of circumstances, but others are taking 
it to heart in a pitiful degree. Although 
for the most part good-natured, chagrin is 
the rule. There are many pathetic tales 
half hinted at. Men left families to live as 
best they might, in vain hope, in narrowed 
circumstances at home, selling or mortgag- 
ing all they possessed to outfit themselves, 
confidently expecting to return with quickly- 
acquired wealth. About twenty-five men 
have lost their lives so far from drowning, 
freezing or scurvy, several of whom we 
know to have dependent families at home. 
It is worse than war, for there is no pension. 
And then the ridiculousness of this mad 
rush! How a company of excited men fol- 
lowed an Eskimo three days across the 
tundras and over the mountains, only to be 




GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



61 



shown a little brook with yellow mica glist- 
ening in the sandy bed! How another party 
had a " sure thing," and several others got 
wind of it and followed, scarcely giving 
themselves time to sleep, until they all 
reached the same spot together in a mood to 
fight, but finally laughed at themselves as if 
provoked by a humorous ice demon. Sev- 
eral parties paid an old sailor at San Fran- 
cisco forty dollars each for a " tip " as to 
the exact spot where gold had been dug out, 
" fifteen thousand dollars in two hours with 
a jack-knife"! They all met at the supposed 
place. We have had the laugh on them 
many times, though I fail to see the exact 
grounds. The ludicrous sometimes changes 
to the doleful even while I am laughing. 
"We paid $600 apiece 

for our tip," someone 

says. Several have 
owned up that they fol- 
lowed the " Penelope " 
crowd into this country 
believing that we had " a 
sure thing;" and the mis- 
sionaries told us that it 
has been rumored that 
nearly five hundred men 
came into the Sound last 
summer following our 
" scent." I cannot see 
anything " funny " about 
it, though some do. 

Feb. 12. This morn- 
ing after breakfast I 
amused myself about an hour before ser- 
vice by paying strict attention to affairs 
about me in the cabin. It is astonishing 
how entertaining the meaningless, helter- 
skelter, careless conversation can be. And 
yet there are points. We are all doing some- 
thing, if only yawning or looking out of the 
frosty window. 

C. C. to clipping Cox's whiskers and makes 
inaudible remarks. Rivers is shaving, just 
like any Christian of a Sunday morning. 
Miller, Alec, Clyde, Casey, Brownie and the 
doctor are reading. I am writing at the 
table. Uncle Jimmy is standing by the stove 
with his hands in his pockets, facing the win- 
dow and whistling. A pail of water is set 
into the top of the heating stove and sizzles 
in varying tones. All is quiet for a while, 
when positions are changed. Ablutions are 
going on behind closed canvas. Uncle Jimmy 
sits down on a bench and pulls his beard in 
a slow, rhythmical motion. He is abstracted. 
Cox fills a stew-pail with water, pieces of 



ice striking the sides with a tinkling sound, 
and puts it on the cook stove. Uncle Jimmy 
gets his Bible and sits down at the table, 
spending several moments in wiping his 
spectacles. He reads a verse and pushes his 
specs high up on his forehead, rests his head 
on his hand and dozes off. Casey and Cox 
exchange some words about a " shirt " that 
has shrunken in washing. Rivers takes the 
thermometer and goes outdoors. Returns, 
saying that it is " thirty below," and bids me 
put that in my diary. Clyde brings his 
camera outfit to the window and explains 
what the several pictures represent. Cox 
asks me to " blow out the lamp if I don't 
need it," which I do. Cox gets a book and 
sits down near the window. He lights his 




After Whitefish. 

big corn-cob and, after puffing several dense 
clouds of smoke, asks, "Will I disturb you 
smoking, Uncle Jimmy?" The latter says, 
" Oh, no; oh, no!" Rivers gets " Hamlet " 
and sits down to the table to read. C. C. is 
in his bedroom humming a tune. Ceases 
humming and whistles; is again humming; 
whistles; sings. The doctor gets up, saying, 
" Uncle Jimmy, I didn't know I took your 
Bible." Goes into bedroom and puts on hood 
and mitteqs. Says he is " going up to see 
Bentz." And the morning passes, while I 
see and hear much more of no greater im- 
portance than what I have recorded. Half- 
past eleven the natives and " cabloonas " 
begin to arrive for church. C. C. speaks, 
and as usual we all listen. 

Is it monotonous, does one think who has 
not spent months in a cabin with the same 
faces and the same voices and the same rou- 
tine of endless twilight? I marvel how 
some who have not inward resources can 
endure it. 



62 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



I let " Cingato " have my shot-gun yester- 
day, and he brought me four ptarmigan, 
two of which were the rock ptarmigan, which 
I have not before taken. I wanted to skin 
them to-day, but Uncle Jimmy wouldn't let 
me. If I insisted Casey said I might, from 
Uncle Jimmy's threatening look, " precipi- 
tate a rough house." I put the birds away 
to freeze until to-morrow, so there is no 
further danger of a " rough house." 

Last night we had the most beautiful 
aurora of the winter. The more brilliant 
display was south of the zenith, although 
there was scarcely a part of the sky which 
was not illuminated at some time. Broad 
curtains of pale blue light seemed suspended 





On a Journey. 

in the heavens. They were constantly 
changing in form and intensity, and waves 
slowly swept across them as if they were 
disturbed by a breeze. The lower edge was 
the brighter, and alternate light and shadow 
chased each other endlessly from west to 
east. The effect was like that of a stage 
with the curtain drawn, with a succession of 
persons passing in front of the footlights. 
And then there were ribbons of light sweep- 
ing slowly across the sky. These bands 
were often abruptly broken and continued 
at right angles with the other section. Little 
patches of light, like a fleecy cloud in a 
sunny sky, appeared for a few minutes, to 
gradually fade out again. There was no 
moon, and yet the landscape was illumin- 
ated as if by the brightest moonlight, but 
there were no shadows. 

Feb. 17. Alec, Miller and Casey started 
back up the river and Brownie went with 
them. The four " Agnes Boyd " boys who 



came down with C. C. also went up. and two 
of the Hanson boys with them. Yesterday 
Casey, Clyde and three of the Iowa people 
also left, and will catch up with the first 
party at Ambler City. Alec, Miller, Clyde 
and Brown will return in a month. The 
party had two sleds and four dogs. The 
cabin seems almost empty. We have had 
from eleven to eighteen sleeping and eating 
here for the past month or more, and now we 
are only six. The comparative quiet is a 
relief and I shall be able to do more study- 
ing. I want to read some more books as 
well. I expect we shall be few in numbers 
from now on. When Alec and Miller get 
back from the upper camp they, with C. C. 
and Rivers, are planning to go 
down to the vessel at Escholtz 
Bay. Casey, our engineer, will 
stick by the " Helen " until the 
river opens. I am going to stay 
here until ihe " Helen " -picks me 
up on her way to the Sound. I 
can do more work in the spring 
collecting, with a warm cabin to 
dry specimens in, than chasing 
over the country prospecting, with 
a will-o'-the-wisp in view. The 
weather is very gloomy. The air 
is heavy with mist and full of a 
fine frost which falls constantly. 
The sun, although it shines for 
seven hours a day, doesn't get far 
enough above the horizon to get 
in its genial work. It was forty- 
five degrees below zero this 
morning and we stay in the cabin. Last 
week Rivers and I were relieved from culin- 
ary duties and Cox took our place. Coxie 
proves himself to be the best cook the Long 
Beach and Alaska Mining and Trading Com- 
pany has produced. We feel our loss in not 
having discovered his talents in this line be- 
fore. He has been too modest. His art 
shall no longer be in obscurity. 

He sits straddle of the stove all day long 
concocting original dishes and improving 
upon old ones. He gives us a quarter of a 
pie apiece three times a day, and as much as 
we want between meals. His bread is per- 
fect. We had the finest kind of fried eggs 
for breakfast fish eggs. The only impedi- 
ment to his cooking, to my mind, is his in- 
ability to make mush. It is too thin. We 
have made a fortunate deal with the Han- 
son Company, who have fifty tons of pro- 
visions in their storehouse here, to get all 
the extra grub we need until summer. Their 
steamer, the " Agnes Boyd," is nearly 



L a " glacier creek," and it will prob- 
avtj Ldii to the "Helen" to ship their pos- 
sessions down next summer. I was down to 
the San Jose cabin for dinner. We were 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



63 




We have a new lounge, which invites indi- 
gence in an already lazy crowd. I have read 
over and over the six letters I received in 
the New Year's mail. It will be six months 
served to an individual yet before we get any more. We heard from 
can apiece of sauer- an Indian that Harry R. and Samms had 



A Child in the Cabin. 



kraut and sausages 
steaming hot. I had 
been hunting across the 
tundra for several 
miles through the snow, 
and my appetite was as 
keen as C. C.'s razor 
after he has stropped it 
on a section of the belt 
which was made at 
home and fastened 
around his waist with 
the charge that on no 
account w r as it to be 
taken off unless he was 
found dead in the snow. 
It has his name on it for 
identification. Guy Sols- 
bury has just come up with Dr. Coffin to 
stay with us for a few days' visit. We have 
plenty of room now, and are ready to re- 
ceive in decent style. 

Feb. 20, 12 o'clock noon. Cox and Rivers 
and I are the only ones in the room. The 
rest are cutting wood. The sunshine is 
flooding the cabin with light, although the 
thermometer shows forty degrees below 
zero. One of our Eskimo neighbors, " Poth- 
luk," is visiting us, probably more for the 
benefit he derives from the stove than from 
a particularly friendly feeling. His little 
girl is with him, and is romping around the 
room like any white child. " Kop-puk " is 
the prettiest native child I have seen. She 
is " four snows old," so Poth-luk tells me. 
Her costume is typically Eskimo a heavy 
deerskin parka with a big hood, lined with 
wolverine, strips of minkskin hanging from 
her shoulders and waist, and deerskin com- 
muks. Her hood lies back from her head 
exposing her black hair, cut bang-wise in 
front. Her face is round and fat and her 
mouth really very pretty. She has shining 
dark brown eyes and perfectly white teeth. 
At this moment she is playing "peek-a-boo" 
with me from behind a chair. Her laugh- 
ing face, surrounded by the broad fringe of 
wolverine fur, and her chubby figure, make 
a pretty picture. I would like to take her 
home with me. But what could I do with 
her? If taken from her native climate she 
would probably soon die. 



reached the Orphans' Home safely, though 
they have had hard traveling. Saturday 
night Brownie, Clyde, two of the Iowa boys 
and one Hausonite returned, having given 
up the trip. They only went fifteen miles 
up the river. The snow is so deep they had 
to carry the sled in some places, and those 
who are continuing with it have to double 
up with the loads; that is, go over the road 
twice in order to get the entire load up. 
They will have a rough time. Brownie came 
near freezing to death and had to return. 
This gave the other boys who came with 
him an excuse for returning. Brownie has 
been around home all winter, not exercising 
much, and was not sufficiently hardened for 
such a trip. The first day, after they had 
been out but a few hours, he sat down ex- 
hausted and said he would come on as soon 
as he had rested a few minutes (the old 




\ 



Our Artist Snowed In. 

story). The boys had presence of mind to 
know what the real matter was and tried 
to get him to walk on, but he completely 
collapsed and became unconscious. They 
quickly unloaded the sled and several went 
on ahead to prepare the tent and get a fire 
going, while the rest got Brownie on the 



64 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



sled and hauled him to camp. He was 
finally restored, but a few minutes more 
and another would have been added to the 
Kowak silent ones. It was thirty-five de- 
grees below zero, not so very cold, but his 
feet and face were frozen. The boys plied 
the art of thawing him out so well that he 
will lose nothing but some skin. He makes 
a pretty picture with a black nose. His toes 
are sore, too. Nothing will induce him to 
leave the cabin again. It is no use making 
light of it, it is dangerous traveling unless 
one is in the best physical condition and 
with proper clothes and outfit. The rest of 
the party are used to it, and we have no fear 
for their safety. So many together can take 
care of each other. Brownie says that when 
he sat down to rest he only felt tired and a 
little numb. This numbness crept on him 
with little pain until he gradually lost per- 
ception. He says he " felt good " and didn't 
like to be disturbed. He lost all power of 
movement and speech until he was warmed 
up and rubbed for two or three hours. 
Death by freezing must be very easy and 
pleasant. Perhaps it is easier to die almost 
any death than we suspect. I must have an 
argument with the doctor about that. 

Saturday brought me a new experience 
that of writing a sick man's will. B., who 
lives alone in a little cabin near the first 
Iowa Camp, is very sick and will probably 
die. He dictated his will to me, in the pres- 
ence of Uncle Jimmy as witness. It appor- 
tions all his goods and possessions here, 
which are all he has in the world, among the 
residents of this community, naming in par- 
ticular several who have waited upon him. 
Dr. Coffin is willed his dory. B. is a queer 
character. He is more or less insane, evi- 
dently from drink. The way he begs for 
hypodermic injections of cocaine and mor- 
phine indicates that he may have been a 
" dope fiend." He has been here since last 
summer. For some time previous his record 
was not sustaining, but his people thought 
he might be benefited by a change of cli- 
mate. He says his folks are well off and he 
doesn't want any of his things sent home. 
The different camps are sharing in his care 
now, and he may live indefinitely. His legs 
are affected very much like the scurvy vic- 
tim's, though the doctors do not call it that. 
Several of the people have frost-bitten 
cheeks, but otherwise this is a healthy neigh- 
borhood. What little sickness we have had 
tends to make the well ones kind and char- 
itable and helpful. They chop wood for one 
another and in many ways give evidence 



of having sprung from a long line of Chris- 
tian ancestors. I have heard that this is 
the case always and everywhere at mining 
camps. And ours is a mining camp. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

FEB. 24, Friday, 9 p. m. I went hunting 
for the first time on snowshoes. I got 
along famously until I struck a soft 
snowdrift, and the shoes turned on edge and 
I fell headlong. Otherwise I received no 
casualties and got over the ground rapidly, 
skirting the brushy margins of lakes back 
on the tundra and following up the creeks. 
I shot three rock ptarmigan, and learned 
many interesting items about their notes 
and habits, which are duly set down in my 
special bird notes. The weather is calm and 
clear and cold, ranging from fifteen to fifty- 
one degrees in the twenty-four hours. 

Wednesday afternoon the literary was 
again well attended, as we had a very inter- 
esting programme. Dr. Coffin had arranged 
the east end of the room in a patriotic man- 
ner, the designs being his own. A large flag 
made of a red blanket with parallel stripes 
of white cheese cloth folded across it, and in 
the corner a square of blue mosquito netting 
with paper stars pinned on it, formed the 
background. On a platform in front of this 
were stacked three guns, one an old rusted 
muzzle-loader which C. C. found out in the 
woods, one an old-fashioned breech-loader, 
and the third a modern nitro-repeater, to 
represent the three great wars the Revo- 
lutionary, the Civil, and the Spanish. On 
the wall were magazine cuts of Schley, 
Sampson, Dewey, Hobson, and other heroes, 
while in the center of the blanket flag was 
a large picture of George and Martha Wash- 
ington. 

Mr. Legg, of the Jesse Lou Camp, gave a 
talk on Honduras, where he was a banana 
grower some years ago. Several George 
Washington speeches followed, by Solsbury, 
Jury, Thees, C. C., and others. Just at the 
close of the meeting Uncle S. came bluster- 
ing in from up the river. He brought a lot 
of news that kept the people here until late 
in the night. Two or three more men have 
been frozen to death. Several have scurvy. 
Our boys were at Ambler City waiting for 
the weather to moderate before going on up. 
There has been absolutely no gold heard 
from. There are thousands of men in the 
lower Yukon regions, one hundred and fifty 
steamers and various kinds of launches 




GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



65 



along the Koyukuk alone, and no encourag- 
ing prospects. Hundreds of men haven't a 
cent to pay their passage back to the States. 
One good thing makes affairs better than 
they might be there is plenty to eat in the 
country. It is said that a good many have 
signed a petition to the government to come 
and get them out of their trouble. 

We feel pretty sure of our return tickets. 
But the " Penelope " is at the mercy of 
Arctic demons, and if she is saved it will be 
marvelous. 

Feb. 26, Sunday. I will confess that I did 
not behave well in church this morning. I 
took a seat over in the corner behind Rivers, 
where I thought my scribbling would not be 
noticed, and there I am writing. I guess no 
one will be harmed by it unless it be myself. 
10:30 a. m., and the first arrivals for meeting 
are Charley Lund and Beam of the first 
Iowa Camp that is, representing the white 
population. Services are supposed to begin 
at eleven, but two benches of Eskimo are 
already seated. They are quite well behaved, 
but keep up an incessant jabbering. Char- 
ley Lund, Beam and the doctor are holding 
an animated conversation about the sick 
man B. B. is a good deal better. 

Guy Solsbury and Normandin of the Han- 
son Camp have just arrived, all muffled up, 
their masks thickly frosted. It is forty-five 
degrees below zero, but they report that 
their three-mile walk was " quite comfort- 
able." Normandin brought me a big box 
nicely finished with cover and shallow trays, 
for my skins. It is in trade for a stuffed 
ptarmigan. He is quite a genius in the me- 
chanical line. The box was rather too heavy 
to carry, so he fastened a pair of runners 
on blocks at the bottom and dragged it up 
by a rope tied to a handle on one end. Ly- 
man comes in w/th his clarionet case under 
his arm. Dr. Gleaves and D. arrive, and 
then Young, Dougherty and Montgomery, 
from the middle Iowa cabin, and Legg of the 
Jesse Lou, who is staying with them. Sev- 
eral more natives come in with friendly 
" Halloas!" " Big Jones " from the further 
Iowa Camp arrives, and Brennan and Mal- 
colm from the Sunnyside. Brennan is nick- 
named " Noisy," because he is always very 
quiet and has nothing to say to anyone. 
Remarks as to the " cold weather," wooden 
snow-glasses and snowshoes, are numerous. 
The conversation is mainly desultory, car- 
ried on piecemeal from opposite sides of the 
room. But there is a low hum from two or 
three couples who are carrying on a more 



earnest conversation. Dr. Coffin and Dr. 
Gleaves, for instance, I overhear discussing 
Fish's condition. Fish is the man whose 
toes were amputated. One can see that 
Sunday services on the Kowak are rather of 
a social nature. The orchestra begins to 
tune up; general silence falls on the congre- 
gation, and individuals seek permanent 
seats. Dr. Coffin gives out the song books, 
of which C. C. brought plenty. The 
orchestra consists of the banjo by C. C., vio- 
lin by Normandin, and clarionet by Lyman. 
There is some delay and more tuning of the 
banjo and clarionet, which do not seem to 
jibe (to use a musical term). A low buzz of 
conversation is again audible, and the leaves 
of the hymn books rustle. Several of the 
natives have colds and there is considerable 
coughing. It is very quiet; sort of an air of 
suspense. The sunshine streaming across the 
room, reflected from yellow Mackinaw suits, 
gives a brownish tint to the scene. Nor- 
mandin and C. C. are discoursing " sharps " 
and " flats " in a low voice, yet audible in the 
room. The violin and banjo are not quite 
tuned together. Solsbury is talking aloud 
about " Moth balls in furs, back in the 
States." At last C. C. announces the num- 
ber of the hymn in a loud, hurried voice, as 
though he were just startled out of a 
reverie, " No. 17, Jesus Saves." The clar- 
ionet sounds the pitch and C. C. leads in 
the singing. The time is awfully slow. 
Nearly everyone sings, the Eskimos follow- 
ing the air nearly as well as the whites. Al- 
though many sing out of tune, and individ- 
ually would make a horrible discord, the 
aggregation is a somewhat musical droning 
of a quality that would soon put one to 
sleep. After four verses of this hymn, " No. 
64 " is announced, " Wait and Murmur Not." 
Some further tuning, and four verses of this 
hymn are gone through with. They always 
do sing all the verses of any hymn. Dr. 
Coffin now rises and reads the second chap- 
ter of Matthew. Mr. D. is in charge of the 
meeting to-day, and he calls on Mr. W. to 
"lead in prayer." Uncle Jimmy slowly 
rises, takes a step or two forward, clasps his 
hands in front of him, and, closing his eyes, 
raises his face slightly. He is a good man 
and I like to see and hear him pray. I 
haven't anything against Uncle Jimmy. 
When anyone prays the Eskimos always 
bow their heads low, resting their elbows on 
their knees. They say " Amen " in unison 
when the prayer is finished. So much is the 
result of Mr. and Mrs. Samms' missionary 
work. Uncle Jimmy terminates with the 



66 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



Lord's Prayer, in which all join. When the 
praying is over there is quite a hubbub of 
coughing and sneezing. C. C. announces 
" No. 49," and the orchestra tunes, " There 
shall be showers of blessing," four verses. 
The clarionet doesn't seem to know this very 
well and makes several breaks. Toward 
the end of the last verse the hymn-books are 
closed and there is a general settling down. 
D. rises and, after a pause, proceeds to apol- 
ogize for his inability as a public speaker. 
But he tells us he will do the best he can, 
and we ask for nothing more. His subject 
is " The Divinity of Christ." I should like 
to take down the various points, but my con- 




Church Service at Cape Blossom in July. 



tinued scratching is noisy and attracts atten- 
tion. I might get taken out of meeting by 
the ear and so suffer for being a " naughty 
little boy." A couple of men came in late 
during the sermon and caused some disturb- 
ance until they finally got seated, mopping 
the melting ice from their beards. D. winds 
up his discourse with a prayer. The most of 
his sermon was written, and delivered in his 
usual halting manner, but the substance was 
good for any location and showed that he 
had given a good deal of study to his sub- 
ject. After the prayer and a chorus of 
" Amens " from the natives, who haven't 
understood a word of what was said, there 
is a sort of recovery, with coughing and 
clearing of throats and shuffling of feet. 
" No. 139 " is announced, " Bringing in the 
sheaves," three verses. C. C. starts another 
song, which he observes " will be familiar 
to the natives," " No. 39, At the Cross." 
The Eskimos catch a tune quite readily, the 
women and children carrying the air very 
nicely. They try hard to imitate the words. 



Two verses conclude this song. " No. 14, 
Jesus, I Come," is announced. It is a new 
piece and is sung very scatteringly. Guy 
Solsbury calls for " Sunshine." He thinks it 
appropriate, because at this moment the 
sunshine is flooding the room with more 
than usual brightness. But C. C. says he 
hasn't the music, so the orchestra can't play 
it. C. C. asks all to rise, and he prays and 
gives the benediction. The congregation 
slowly disperses, little knots remaining to 
discuss various topics. Legg declares he 
will not go back to the Jesse Lou until the 
weather moderates. Thus with gossip and 
swapping of news the Kowak Sunday ser- 
vices are finally 
ended and the room 
is cleared in time for 
the 2 o'clock dinner. 

March 3. I have 
been pretty busy to- 
day. Got up just in 
time for breakfast, 
which I don't have 
to get any more, for 
a while at least, and 
took my snowshoes 
up to the village to 
b e mended. Then 
Rivers and I went 
ptarmigan hunting. 
We tramped across 
the tundras from 
eight till two, bag- 
ging two ptarmigan and a redpoll. It was 
tiresome. In the ravines where the wind did 
not strike, the snow was soft and deep and 
hard to get over even with snowshoes. 
Rivers wore snowshoes for the first time, 
and he got several tumbles, but always 
struck in a soft place. 

We got into a large flock of ptarmigan 
which kept flying around us, but, after two 
or three shots, our hands became too cold 
and we had to give them up. My mitts were 
sweaty, and froze while I had them off 
shooting, and when I put them on again my 
hands nearly became frosted. It is too cold 
for comfortable hunting. When we got back 
we were late for dinner, but Coxie got us a 
fine lunch, hot pea soup, biscuits, and apple 
cobbler. After dinner I put up two ptarmigan 
skins that I shot last Tuesday. Rivers is 
learning how to skin birds now. He expects 
to go down to Escholtz Bay pretty soon to 
be with the vessel when the ice breaks up, 
and will collect eggs and skins for me there. 
I would like to turn the whole company 



into an egg collecting concern for a month 
in May and June. But I guess the doctor 
and Rivers are the only ones who will take 
much active interest. Last night I had a 
very nice dream. The first swallows had 
come. There were barn swallows and bank 
swallows flying along the river and I was 
after them. Before many weeks this is just 
what will happen. It will be an exciting 
time for me. More exciting than gold hunt- 
ing. 

Monday was my birthday, and there was 
quite a celebration in the cabin. The first 
thing in the morning, before I was fairly 
awake, I was attacked by the doctor, and 
we had a five-minute squabble, pitched high. 
At the close of the seance he claimed to have 
given me twenty-two spanks. They were 
more in the nature of bunts and kicks than 
square spanks. I made the doctor lots of 
hard work. We rolled around the floor and 
under the bed and on the beds, and tore 
things up generally, including Brownie, who 
got in the road with his sore leg. At break- 
fast Coxie served me a big bowl of oatmeal 
mush. We had been out of mush material 
for a long time, much to my personal sor- 
row, as all the boys and most of the neigh- 
bors well know. Mr. Lyman, hearing of my 
birthday, kindly sent me in a package of 
oatmeal. Good birthday present that! 

I also received a birthday box from home, 
smuggled like the Christmas* box, not to be 
opened until the day appointed." There 
was everything in itgames, books, candies, 
duly bottled and boxed, etc. We all had a 
treat. At dinner a big platter of ptarmigan 
was set at my place (some I had shot), and 
all in all it was a very pleasant occasion. 
A birthday in the Arctics, on the banks of 
the mighty Kowak, is not often the thing 
that happens to a* fellow, 

Wednesday, at the literary, C. C. talked 
on " Reminiscences of an Undertaker." It 
was very interesting, being his favorite and 
familiar theme. It was held at the Hanson 
Camp, and I remained as guest of Guy Sols- 
bury' Jack Messing and Joe Jury came here 
and visited our boys at the same time. We 
have to visit about tJiese cold nights and 
sleep under one cover when possible. 
Blankets are none too plentiful. 

Normandin mended my shot-gun, which 
had lost a rivet, for which I paid him the 
sum of a stuffed ptarmigan. Everybody 
wants ptarmigan skins now, but I have to 
be rather " stingy," as I am frequently told, 
or else I won't have a ghost of a " series " 
to take home lor comparison. Home! When? 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



67 



CHAPTER XVIII. 




Coming to Trade. 



ARCH 7, 1899. I have succeeded at 
last in trading for two pairs of snow- 
shoes, from some Eskimos who have 
just come up the river. The dickering en- 
gaged the entire afternoon, and I am com- 
pletely exhausted. It is a stupendous 
undertaking to attempt to trade for any- 
thing. The natives want the earth, and then 
" some more." The following is an illustra- 
tion of the proceedings: An Indian brings 
in a pair of snowshoes and we all rush to 
see them, commenting 
on their size and qual- 
ity. " Mickaninny " (too 
small); " anganinny " 
(too big) ; " naguruk " 
(good) ; " caprok pec- 
hak " (string loose); 
" b y m e by fixem." 
And then " capsinic " 
(how much?) The na- 
tive invariably replies, 
" You speak." You can 
never make an Indian 
state what he wants. 
You begin by offering 
him " sox." " Konga " 
(no). He wants " cow cow " (something 
to eat). "Flour?" "Capsinic flour?" " Ne- 
leuea " (I don't know). Being urged on 
flour, the native intimates " two sacks." 
" Oh, apazh, apazh " (too much). One 
sack flour all right? "No, too small." The 
Indian then proceeds to look over the 
sack of flour brought for his inspection and 
he finds "potoa" (hole). After this is sewed 
up he finds that it has been wet at one end 
and the flour is a little caked in advance at 
the bottom. He therefore states that the 
whole thing is " no good," and " dauxic 
pechak " (no trade). He wants bacon, " so 
long and so broad," indicating the measure- 
ments in the air with hands. " No, we 
pechak " (haven't any for him). Then I 
bring out a shirt to add to the sack of flour. 
He looks at the shirt and finds a torn place. 
" Stoney-house " (no good). 

" Stoney-house " means torn or broken, 
and has a queer derivation. Fort Cosmos is 
called stoney-house by the natives, because 
Lieutenant Stoney and his party wintered 
there in 1884. The cabin they lived in at 
Fort Cosmos (there is no fort or anything 
else there now) is all broken down. So, with 
an Eskimo, " All same stoney-house," or 
simply " stoney-house," means broken. 
After two hours of sweating and bargain- 



68 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



ing the trade is consummated, and the " cal- 
boona " is satisfied. It is much to the relief 
of both parties. From the foregoing it will 
be plainly seen that a native is amply able 
to care for his own interests, and has 
learned from a probably bitter experience 
to " look a leetle out." 

I got a very nice pair of snowshoes to take 
home as curiosities for one sack of flour and 
a pair of socks, and another pair, stronger 
but not so prettily made, for everyday use, 
for a half sack of flour and half a pound of 
tea. This is very reasonable and some un- 
der winter prices. Snowshoes make nice 
wall decorations for halls and dining-rooms, 
with a suitable picture stuck in them where 
the foot belongs. 

Wednesday, March 8. Our extremely cold 
weather is at an end, I hope. But it is more 
disagreeable outside. I put up a spruce 
grouse and two redpolls this afternoon. 
Birds are becoming noisier and, I presume, 
happier and in better spirits as the sunshine 
increases. An Alaskan three-toed wood- 
pecker drums taps on a dead spruce near the 
cabin every morning. The jays are quiet, 
but have a stealthy, sly manner which indi- 
cates that they are about to engage in nest- 
building. Rivers has finished up two ptar- 
migan skins in fair shape. He is very pains- 
taking and I hope he gets some good speci- 
mens down on the coast. I have everyone 
posted as to keeping birds and eggs for me, 
and, with this generous promise of help, I 
ought to obtain some rare things this spring. 

The literary met this afternoon, with good 
attendance and a talk " On the Eye " by Dr. 
Gleaves. A week ago the other officers and 
myself thought our terms of office had about 
expired, so we "resigned," and our successors 
were elected; Joe Jury, president; Clyde, sec- 
retary; Young, vice-president. To-day, as I 
was retiring from the chair, Dr. Coffin arose 
and, after a most elaborate speech, pre- 
sented me with a gavel. He spoke of its 
rare value on account of its associations, 
and grew quite sentimental. It was part of a 
birch tree, chopped down by Uncle Jimmy 
near our winter home " on the Kowak far 
away." Dr. Coffin selected the pieces and 
worked them down. The head was turned 
by Normandin on the famous grindstone 
lathe of the San Jose cabin. Joe Jury 
worked the crank, yielding " two barrels of 
sweat by measure," and Dr. Coffin turned 
the handle and finished up the gavel. It is 
a very valuable and beautiful souvenir to be 
kept "as long as memory lasts." 



Joe Jury took the chair which I had va- 
cated to-day and made things lively, using a 
big hand-ax for a gavel and otherwise mak- 
ing this, probably our final meeting, a merry 
one. Several of the Kowak men are about 
to leave. Nine of the Sunnysiders started 
up yesterday with their sled loads. They 
have lots of courage and perseverance, but 
I doubt their making the mountain passes 
with their supplies. Solsbury and Joe Jury 
start down to-morrow on a three weeks' 
trip to look after the condition of their 
barge, sixty-eight miles below us. Dr. 
Gleaves and the boys from " Quality Hill " 
are getting ready for a hunting trip across 
to the Naatak. Oh, I believe I have not 
made previous mention of Quality Hill. It 
is an interesting spot, the cabin being occu- 
pied by four young men of the aristocracy. 
They have been exclusive, as became men of 
their distinction. Few of us have been on 
intimate terms with them, but they are said 
to lie in their bunks until twelve o'clock 
noon, and to stay up, when once out, until 
two the following morning. They divert 
themselves by shooting at mice which run 
across the floor, using their six-shooters. 
Various boxes and knot-holes about the 
walls of their residence suggest targets. 
The walls themselves are riddled with bullet 
holes. They are said to have trained a 
young Eskimo as personal attendant, who 
does all the work of the cabin, building 
fires, bringing wood and water, and even 
cooking. He sleeps on the floor, so that he 
may be handy to rekindle the fires of a 
cold night. The first man to arouse in the 
morning tosses a boot or other article at the 
native servant, which reminds him of his 
domestic duties. He blacks their muckluks, 
it is rumored, and serves coffee and cigars 
in bed. They live in style on Quality Hill. 
Thus even the remote Kowak has its aristo- 
cratic society. 

March 10. I put up five more rock ptar- 
migan to-day. They are difficult to skin and 
it is slow work, and their being pure white 
makes it necessary to be extra nice with 
them. I have already used more than half 
of my supply of plaster-of-paris and the 
migrations have not begun. I use this plas- 
ter in cleaning the skins. 

Yesterday the doctor and I went hunting 
for three hours in the forenoon and secured 
eight ptarmigan. It was pleasant when we 
started, but after a while the north wind 
blew. We were about to return when we 
discovered a flock of ptarmigan on a hillside. 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



69 



II 



The fine snow was driving along the ground 
in a continuous blinding stream. The birds 
squatted down close in the snow, facing the 
wind, evidently tired. They paid little at- 
tention to us until we were within easy 







The Doctor Makes a Good Start 

shot, when they rose and, after a short 
flight, settled again. I felt sorry to take ad- 
vantage of them, they are usually so wary. 
The doctor wore his snowshoes for the first 
time and on the whole got along pretty well. 
Once, however, he got mixed up in a snow- 
drift He tripped, the pointed heel of one 
shoe stuck, and down went the toe of the 
other. He plunged head first into the snow, 
where he could scarcely move. During the 
progress of his wallowing his shot-gun got 
crammed full of snow, and he poked it 
out just in time to see four ptarmigan fly 
past. 

March 15, 9 a. m. It has been storming 
three days. This morning the wind is roar- 
ing among the trees louder than ever, and 
the snow fills the air so thickly one cannot 
see a hundred yards. It is warmer, how- 
ever, as it always is with an east wind; 
warmer than we have seen it since last Sep- 
tember. I have been on my first hunt for 
jay's nests. When it is cloudy one can see 
through the foliage of the spruces more 
readily than when the sun shines, throwing 
shadows everywhere. Last week several of 
the " Amblerites " came down. They report 
many cases of scurvy at Ambler City, and 
they came to our camps to get tomatoes, 



fruit and pickles. They are now stormbound, 
and two of them, Phillips and La Voy, are 
with us. They will have hard sledding back 
again unless it thaws enough to form a 
crust. Money is very scarce up here now 
and provisions and clothing are below par. 
With half the money we spent in the States 
one could buy up a good outfit. If one could 
only see ahead! But in that case we would 
not have been here, and I should probably 
never have seen the spring migrations on the 
Kowak. An ill wind that blows nobody any 
good. 

March 18. The cloudy weather continues. 
The warmth from the room is penetrating 
the roof and the water is dripping 
through in several places. The frost and ice 
in the lean-to are melting, making a sloppy 
place. Icicles hang down from above, like 
stalactites in a cave, and slippery cones rise 
from the floor like stalagmites. The snow is 
about two feet deep on the level and is soft 
and damp, making walking even with snow- 
shoes difficult. I went into the woods this 
morning a few hundred yards, wading in 
snow above my knees, which was tiring. I 
got a shot at a raven, but lost it. I heard a 
woodpecker drumming and a couple of pine 
grosbeaks calling. I long for the time when 
the birds will arrive. Every moment will be 



&> 




But Finds Himself in a Changed Position. 

precious then, but the time hangs a little 
heavy now. I am glad I have something to 
look forward to. " Looking forward to 
something " is about half the pleasure of 



70 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



life. I have compiled my last year's bird 
notes, have loaded all my shells, gotten 
boxes ready, and still must wait. I spend 
some of the time in getting as much infor- 
mation from the natives as possible about 
the birds. They know the natural history of 
the region pretty well, and but for their su- 
perstitions would be of practical service to 
me. I have been looking for jay's nests and 
watching these birds for several days now. 
I cannot induce the natives to hunt for me, 
or even to tell me of nests. They tell me 
that if a person looks at the eggs of a jay or 
spruce grouse he will surely " mucky " (die). 
They firmly believe what they say. Kallak 
told me that a man who lived in her father's 
igloo several snows ago, looked into a jay's 
nest and promptly went " mucky." Doctor 
Charley tells me the same thing, except that 
if the person who disturbs the nest shoots 
one of the parent birds and, holding it be- 
hind his back, extracts the entrails and 
throws them away out of his sight, he pos- 
sibly may not die. I am afraid it will be 
hard for me to obtain assistance from 
these people at the time when I shall most 
need it, and which I had fondly hoped for 
all along. 

March 20. My eyes are smarting with 
snow blindness while I write. They feel full 
of sand. To-day the sun shone and the glare 
was dreadful. Last evening I went down to 
the Hanson camp and spent the night with 
Dr. Gleaves, and to-day have been hunting 
jays. I found one nest just started and feel 
very much elated. It was only by accident 
that I found it, for the birds are so shy. I 
saw a jay flying in the direction of a strip 
of spruces, but lost sight of it on account 
of intervening timber. I did not see the 
birds again, but followed in the direction of 
their flight, keeping up a systematic search 
through the spruces. By chance I caught 
sight of a small aggregation of twigs in a 
young tree, which, by a few tell-tale feathers 
clinging around the edge, gave me the scent. 
The nest was not more than half built and 
I made haste to leave the vicinity so as not 
to disturb the birds. I think the full set of 
eggs will be ready in about three weeks. 
This, with the snow several feet deep and 
the landscape white! I returned to Dr. 
Gleaves' in time for dinner at two o'clock, 
and was treated to " Gleaves' Justly Cele- 
brated," which is an original soup of the 
doctor's own concoction. 

After a half day's tramp on snowshoes 
through deep, damp snow, one enjoys a din- 



ner of the " Gleaves' consomme," hash, 
baked sweet potato and sweet corn. 

Last night an Eskimo died at the village, 
and every savage neighbor of the deceased 
has moved into tents out of their warm 
igloos, which are vacated for good. They 
are all going to move across the river and 
put up wick-i-ups. The person who died was 
an old woman who went by the natural 
route of old age. She was dragged out of 
her igloo a few yards and left in the snow, 
for the dogs to eat up, we are told, as she 
had no especial friends. C. C.'s instinct was 
aroused, and he and Dr. Coffin went up to 
attend to the ceremonies. Wonderful to re- 
late, the undertaker did not bury the body, 
but put it on a scaffold in true native style. 
He is being convinced that this is the proper 
form of burial. It is expected that he will 
institute the same on his return to Cali- 
fornia. 

March 24. Guy Solsbury and Joe Jury re- 
turned from their trip to look after the 
barge. Guy has some big stories to relate 
about their " perilous trip," which is the 
identical one Cox and I made last New 
Year's. They have been absent two weeks, 
part of the time snowed in. We shall prob- 
ably have a full account of it in the San Jose 
" Mercury " next summer. It will bring the 
mercury down. Colclough came up with 
them. He had been to the Mission, and 
brought us a letter from Harry Reynolds 
and Captain Delano, who report everything 
" all right." Several men have lately come 
down the Kowak. The word from every- 
where, Naatak, Buckland, Allashook, Koyu- 
kuk, and the entire Kowak region, is " noth- 
ing." Men are waiting impatiently for 
spring to open up so they can " go home." 
C. C., Rivers and Clyde are now waiting for 
the boys to come down from the upper 
camp, when they will all go down to the 
" Penelope." There is little of note going 
on about the cabin these days. We have al- 
together too much sunshine. The doctor and 
I were hunting ptarmigan Thursday. We 
tramped seven hours and never saw a bird 
save a few redpolls and a small squad of 
chickadees. As a result of his tramp the 
doctor is laid up with snow blindness. I am 
not so far affected. I. cannot hunt with 
snow-glasses on, as they dim the vision. 
But I have some natural advantage. My 
ancestors, who did not hunt ptarmigan on 
the Kowak, bequeathed to me a pair of 
rather deep-set eyes with roofing brows, 
which are the best protection. 




GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



71 



" Doctor Charley," the Eskimo who re- 
ceived so much kindness from Dr. Coffin last 
fall, has been anxious to return the courtesy, 
and yesterday his opportunity came. 

The doctor was attacked with snow blind- 
ness with great suffering. Dr. Charley called 
on him professionally, and advised him to 
try a treatment at the hands of his wife, 
who was a specialist in eye cases of this 
nature. The doctor was ready to submit to 
almost anything at the hands of his friends, 
thinking that perhaps they might possess 
some secret worthy of note. Such proved 
to be the case. Indian Charley's wife called 
and looked at the patient's eyes, swollen and 
inflamed and painful to a degree. She 
pointed to some toothpicks on the cabin 
table, and, being told to " proceed," she 
whittled three of them to a sharp point. 
Handing one to the suffering doctor, she bade 
him thrust it into his nostril. He did so and 
found to his astonishment that the mucous 
membrane was without sensation. Obeying 
his doctress, he continued to thrust in the 
point of this pick and likewise the two 
others, when a hemorrhage of considerable 
severity occurred. This was the thing 
greatly to be desired. In an hour the nose 
was inflamed and very painful, but the eyes 
were relieved. After a few hours both nose 
and eyes were normal, and the doctor be- 
lieves the operation rational. He declares 
that he will practice it upon himself and 
others at the first opportunity. When he re- 
turns to California he will doubtless hang 
out his sign as " Specialist on Snow Blind- 
ness." Only there is no snow in California. 
I will remind him of this fact. 

We have a " scurvy trail " now, and every 
day it is traveled. There are two cases at 
the Los Angeles Camp. Our boys keep busy 
at something. Rivers started the idea of 
making rustic furniture, and several others 
followed. This resulted in a search through 
the woods nearly every day for crooked 
birch sticks. Piles of these awkward 
" crooks " adorn our back yard, only a select 
few ever coming up to all the requirements 
of a " natural crook." They might be of 
some use as stove wood, but it is impossible 
to get at them with a saw. The doctor 
spent days and days whittling out candle- 
sticks, and so must C. C. It is nice to 
have something to keep the people busy. It 
helps time to limp by. One of our 
" best and bravest " walks the floor as if 
he had the toothache, he is so homesick. 
He will not let Eskimo Charley treat him for 
nostalgia. 



March 30. To-day the crowd left for the 
Mission. They are C. C., Clyde, Cox, Rivers, 
Alec and a Mr. Drlggs, a stranger. The 
most of them will stay on the " Penelope " 
at Escholtz Bay, and be on hand there to 
help when the ice breaks up. Miller, who 
came down from the upper camp, will remain 
here with us. That leaves us five, Dr. Coffln, 
Uncle Jimmy, Brownie, Miller and myself. 
It is a relief after the congestion. Yesterday 
we had seventeen for dinner. The doctor 
is trying his hand at cooking now. He is a 
specialist on toasted cheese and macaroni. 
We expect to have this combination served 
up three times a day, or until the material 
is exhausted. We each seem to have our 
culinary idiosyncrasies; Cox for light bread 
and pea soup; Rivers for beans; C. C. for 
pie; and I for mush and hash. 

This man Driggs has joined our company 
till we get back to the States. He is a sailor 
and navigator, with captain's papers, and 
may be of use to us later. We have also 
another prospective addition to our numbers, 
a Mr. Van Dyke, a preacher. He will join 
us in the spring and take passage on the 
" Penelope." He knows of a " sure thing." 
He says that on his way up here last year 
his party stopped on the mainland near 
Sledge Island, and he and another man in 
three hours panned out two dollars' worth of 
gold from a creek bed. He had the gold in 
a bottle last fall and some of our boys ex- 
amined it. 

That is certainly a much better prospect 
than we have heard of this side of Circle 
City; that is, that we have any reason to 
rely on. He joins us under the condition 
that we furnish him passage back to the 
States if nothing results, but he promises 
to take us to this place within two days, 
towing up a stream from the coast, and he 
firmly believes himself that he has a " sure 
thing." We shall see. We have heard so 
many stories of this sort that even a 
preacher, cannot arouse much enthusiasm. 
However, we have taken up his offer and 
will sail for the place indicated as soon as 
the " Penelope " can get away from her 
moorings. I'd give five dollars for the 
chance to pan out two dollars' worth of gold- 
dust. 

Oh, yes, Van Dyke says that he met an 
Indian near Sledge Island who had nuggets, 
and took him to a spot covered many feet 
by a snowdrift, which he assured him was 
a mother lode, or something that sounded 
very nice. Ah, I'd like to see a mother lode! 
She's what we are after. 



72 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



CHAPTER XIX. 



rj PRIL 2, Sunday. Evidently our Kowak 
jl church is dwindling. Only fifteen in 
attendance to-day. In C. C.'s absence 
Dr. Coffin and Uncle Jimmy conducted ser- 
vices. Van Dyke also took part. Miller 
and Van Dyke sang a duet, " Though Your 
Sins be as Scarlet." It was as fine as any- 
thing I remember to have heard anywhere. 
And this in our little cabin on the lonely 
Kowak! It snows a great deal and the north 




Ancient Indian Grave. 

wind blows. Collecting is slow and birds 
are scarce. I got a couple of Siberian 
chickadees the other day. They are good 
birds to have, an Asiatic species which boils 
over into Alaska a little. This makes three 
species of chickadees I have found here the 
long-tailed, Hudsonian and Siberian. Wood- 
peckers are drumming on the dead spruces, 
but I take care to keep away from them. 
Miller continues to be my partner in taxi- 
dermy. We are planning to stop at Dutch 
Harbor next winter. 

April 12. Busy days are beginning to 
come and I have less time for my diary. We 
get more sunshine than is convenient. To- 
day is cooler, fifteen degrees below zero 
again. We used to think there wasn't much 
snow in this country, but are learning our 
mistake. It snows every day and is three 
feet deep on a level. The doctor and I spent 
the last four days at the Jesse Lou Camp. 



I got thirty-eight birds and a porcupine skin. 
Miller and I are hard at work upon them. 
The doctor is laid up with snow blindness 
again. We had a feast at Jesse Lou on por- 
cupine, boiled, roasted and stewed. It is 
like veal and fine eating. An Indian shot it. 
Many people are traveling on the river, so 
as to get as- far as the Mission before the 
ice breaks up. Scurvy is on the increase. 
Two more men have died of it at Ambler 
City. Four at the Iowa cabins are down 
with it. None of us are in the least affected. 
Brownie is cook now and we have plenty to 
eat. Miller and I have begun trading some 
of our bird skins for personal supplies for 
next winter at Dutch Harbor. We traded a 
pair of ptarmigan for a sack of flour and 
fourteen pounds of bacon to-day. We can 
get almost anything we ask in trade for 
bird skins, but money is scarce. After tramp- 
ing all day have just had a magnificent din- 
ner. Here, as elsewhere, something to eat 
is the first need. The doctor and I have had 
fine success. Got twenty-three rock ptar- 
migan. But we are tired and the poor doc- 
tor is attacked again. He is at this moment 
applying a solution of boracic acid to his 
eyes. I continue unaffected. We are sun- 
burned as dark as natives. For a while I 
burnt-corked my face, but no need of it 
now. I wear a broad-brimmed, black slouch 
hat, drawn close over my eyes, and find it 
better than snow-glasses. 

April 15. Twenty degrees below zero. 
The Indians say that in the last thirteen 
years there were three summers when the 
ice never melted out of Kotzebue Sound at 
all. And they say this is just like those 
years, no snow until late. When the snow 
comes early it prevents the water and the 
ground from freezing so deep. Men are be- 
ginning to worry about our condition. The 
ice in the river is seven feet thick, and there 
isn't snow enough to float out all the ice 
when it melts, so they say. Last winter 
there were seven or eight feet of snow, and 
now only two or three feet. It does look 
dreary for those who are in a hurry to get 
out. 

I was out to-day on snowshoes. I like 
them. One acquires a long, sliding gait that 
is very easy. On the ridge back of the 
Guardian Camp I had a fine view of the 
country north and west. The snow is drifted 
over the west side of the ridges by the east 
winds, forming great shelving banks with 
protruding crests twenty to forty feet above 
their bases. We are getting almost enough 




GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



73 



sunshine to start a thaw. Miller has gone to 
Ambler City in the interests of our new 
" firm." He will look after the jays in that 
vicinity. 

I had almost forgotten to record the 
latest excitement. The " Flying Dutch- 
man " arrived Thursday from St. Michaels. 
He has a dog team and is hurrying on up the 
river, expecting to return to Cape Nome be- 
fore the thaw comes. The news he brought 
is of a " big strike " at Cape Nome on the 
coast near Sledge Island. " Richer than 
Klondike." Three men took out $600 in 
ten hours." There may be some truth in it, 
as this is about the place Van Dyke was to 
take us to. But I am hard to convert to any 
gold proposition now. I shall 
have to see it to fully believe 
it. All are excited over this 
rumor, but it is useless to 
think of travel. We got a let- 
ter from the " Penelope " 
crew stating that Harry Rey- 
nolds and Jett had already 
started for the new gold 
fields. They took grub and a 
team of dogs, so our company 
will be represented at Cape 
Nome. I am afraid to think 
there is something in it. It 
excites one unduly after the 
disappointments of a year. 
The "Flying Dutchman" says 
flour is ten dollars a sack at 
Cape Nome and other things 
to eat as high. We heard that 
C. C. and party had reached 
the Kotzebue camp after a hard pull. Rivers 
and Clyde gave out and had to be hauled to 
camp. Several were s^ow blind. They 
had hired two Eskimos to draw the sled to 
the schooner. Such is life in the Arctics. 

April 19, Wednesday, 9 p. m. Two men 
came in from Ambler City to-day with 
frozen feet. We rubbed the frost pretty well 
out with snow, but they will be laid up for 
a month and one of them may lose his toes. 
The nights are cold, fifteen to twenty de- 
grees below zero. By noon it is thawing. 
A man's socks and boots become soaked 
with perspiration and, as the afternoon ad- 
vances, the temperature falls and the wet 
footgear freezes. Then, too, in many places 
the river ice cracks and the water flows up 
through and soaks into the snow so that a 
traveler steps through into the slush and 
water deep enough to fill his shoes. Before 
camp is reached the feet freeze. The Cape 



Nome excitement is spreading and many are 
starting overland with light loads for the 
new diggings. Our neighbors of the Iowa 
cabin are getting ready and eight will start 
to-morrow. None of us here feel called upon 
to attempt the trip. 

We have received news through other 
channels than the one mentioned in regard 
to the Cape Nome district. It looks more 
hopeful. Captain Ingraham, who was up 
the Kowak last fall, is on the grounds, and 
has staked several claims. He took $158 
out of three prospect pans. Hundreds of 
men are rushing into the country. There 
are fights over claims and two men are shot. 
Miller returned from Ambler City Monday 




Looking Northward. 

with eight ptarmigan. We have put up the 
skins in fine shape. 

April 22, Saturday. It is snowing heavily 
this morning, with a strong north gale. The 
doctor went down to the Hanson Camp yes- 
terday, expecting to return to-day, but he 
hasn't arrived yet. I feel anxious about 
him, it is so easy to get lost. This cold will 
put a stop for a while to the Cape Nome 
procession. Men have been passing down 
the river every day, and we have lots of 
visitors for meals and to stay all night. 
John Miller, the man with the frozen feet, 
is still with us and probably will be, for he 
has no other place to go. His feet are in 
bad shape; great blisters run across them, 
and he suffers. Dr. Gleaves is back from his 
trip to the Agnes Boyd Camp, and is about 
starting for Cape Nome. It is very interest- 
ing and amusing to those who stay at home 
to note the efforts and trials of the poor peo- 



74 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



pie toiling along the trail. Most of them 
start out with two or three hundred pounds 
apiece, but they lighten their load each day 
until it is reduced to one hundred and fifty 
pounds. I am convinced myself, from what 
the Eskimos tell us, that it is useless to 
start for Cape Nome now. It will thaw be- 
fore half the distance is covered. By the 
route generally traveled it is about four hun- 
dred miles from here. Yesterday a snow- 
flake came hopping about the woodpile on 
the sunny side of the cabin the first 
arrival from the South. It spends the win- 
ter as far south as the northern tier of the 
United States, where it is the familiar snow- 
bird. 

A man up the river sent down the left 
hind foot of a " snowshoe rabbit" to be 
stuffed. He had the tendons pulled apart 
so that by pulling on them the toes were 
moved. He wants the foot preserved in 
some way so that this mechanism will re- 
main and the toes move by pulling an in- 
visible string. Don't know as I can do it. 

April 25. We finished putting up our ptar- 
migan yesterday and have more on hand 
now. The past few days are warm, with 
southeast winds. I started out this morn- 
ing but found the snow too sticky and soft. 
It clings to the snowshoes like lead weights. 
It is uncomfortably warm. 

We think the main part of the Cape Nome 
rush has passed us. Several went by this 
forenoon from as far up as the Riley Camp. 
Saturday night at ten o'clock two fellows 
got in from Ambler City. The boys had all 
retired but Miller and me, so we got them 
their supper. They had come thirty miles 
that day, pulling a sled, and were nearly 
ready to drop from exhaustion, when they 
got inside. Sunday at 2 p. m. eight more 
arrived. They came staggering into the 
cabin, groping their way to the nearest seat, 
almost dead. Nearly all were snow blind 
to a more or less extent. One fellow's eyes 
were paining him so that he sobbed and 
cried like a child. The crowd spent the 
night. Saturday night it had snowed ten 
inches. Unless we get a hard freeze to make 
a crust I doubt if these men can reach the 
Mission even. 

We have to entertain so many visitors 
that it is getting tiresome naturally. I 
judge we have fed sixty men in the past 
week, or at least have served that many 
meals. We call our camp the " Penelope 
Inn," or " Cape Nome Recuperating Sta- 
tion." John Miller is getting well rapidly 



and can stand on his feet to-day. They are 
sloughing. Several men we know are down 
with the mumps. We have all been ex- 
posed. 

April 29, Saturday. An Indian arrived 
with letters from the schooner " Penelope." 
C. C.'s party arrived all right. C. C.'s letter 
confirms the Cape Nome report, and he and 
Cox, Fancher, Alec and Driggs are to start 
in a couple of days from date. If they reach 
there all right, it will make seven of us on 
the ground. That left only the captain, with 
Rivers and Clyde, on the schooner, so C. C. 
suggested that Miller and Brown from this 
camp make all possible haste to get there, 
that they may assist at the breaking up of 
the ice. 

It didn't take the two boys long to decide, 
and yesterday they spent in remodeling an 
old sled and making up as light an outfit as 
possible. They left at four o'clock this 
morning with a one hundred and fifty pound 
sled load, and, if the weather continues cold 
enough to keep the present crust on the 
snow, they ought to make the trip in twelve 
days. That leaves only Uncle Jimmy, Dr. 
Coffin and myself to take care of the stuff at 
this camp. If anything should happen to the 
" Helen " above, we should have some ex- 
perience in raft building and getting down 
the river as best we could. It is lonesome, 
only three out of the original twenty, and 
after having had so many neighbors, too, 
who are mostly gone. The latest word from 
further up was that our boys are at work 
on the " Helen " digging her out of the ice, 
and she is so far all right. The " Agnes E. 
Boyd," which was buried in a glacier creek 
during the winter, stands little chance of 
being saved. So also with the " Hero." The 
firm of " Miller & Grinnell " have disasso- 
ciated on account of Miller's " summons," 
but if the Cape Nome prospect fails, as I 
think very likely, we will join again as soon 
as we meet and prepare to spend the winter 
at Dutch Harbor. Miller will collect birds 
down in the Sound this spring. With Miller 
and Rivers at work there, and myself here, 
I ought to get a good collection by spring. 
Dr. Coffin does a good deal ot shooting. Out 
of every five birds he brings in in good con- 
dition, I skin one for him. That rate is fa- 
vorable for us both. He already has a box 
full and by spring will have quite a collec- 
tion. I am getting a good deal of freight on 
my hands. It is bulky. I keep the neighbor- 
hood gleaned of empty boxes of all sorts. 
I am very short of cotton, either for wrap- 




GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



75 



ping or stuffing. I use dry hay and moss for 
even the smaller birds now. 

Last week the doctor and I took a long 
tramp, staying out all night. When we 
started we had no idea of being away twen- 
ty-four hours and only had a light lunch, 
consisting of a little corned beef, four half 
slices of bread and butter, a dozen walnuts, 
a handful of raisins, and some malted milk 
tablets. And this was all we had for four 
meals. The doctor says it is good for a per- 
son's health for him to fast occasionally, 
and I am certain that this opportunity ought 
to fully demonstrate the assertion. But I 
do not think my health demands any further 
treatment of the same nature. We kept go- 
ing farther from home, hunting for likely 
places for ptarmigan and other birds, until 
we got pretty tired; so we thought it a good 
time to try the experiment of sleeping out on 
the snow with no protection whatever. I do 
not say we were lost. Gold-hunters are 
never lost. 

We lived through the experiment. We did 
not sleep more than half an hour all the time 
put together. We had to keep " flopping " 
over to keep one side from freezing and the 
other from roasting. We built a fire against 
a spruce in a dense patch of woods. The 
snow was beaten down in front of it, and a 
mass of spruce boughs gathered and formed 
into a real comfortable-looking nest. This 
kept us from contact with the snow, but al- 
lowed of a too free circulation of fresh air. 
A number of decayed trees in the vicinity 
afforded fuel for the fire with little trouble 
on our part, our hunting knives being the 
only tool we had carried with us. Once 
during the night I had dozed off very re- 
luctantly when the doctor happened to 
notice the smell of burning wool. A spark 
of fire had snapped out and lighted on the 
front of my jumper, where, in less time than 
it takes to write it, it had eaten through my 
clothes, including my sateen shirt and un- 
dershirt, and was progressing towards my 
vitals when the doctor rang up the fire de- 
partment. I was awakened by a sudden ap- 
plication of cold on my diaphragm and the 
loud tones of my companion, who declared 
he did not come to the Arctics to be burnt 
to death. In spite of the sleepless night we 
enjoyed everything. We started again at 
three o'clock in the morning, after a break- 
fast consisting of two walnuts apiece, a 
dozen milk tablets and a few raisins. The 
doctor wanted to roast some of the birds we 
had shot the day before, but I would sooner 
starve than spoil such rare things as 



Alaskan three-toed woodpeckers, hawk 
owls, Alaskan jays, and whitewinged cross- 
bills. I should think anyone would. On a 
hillside where the snow had been nearly all 
blown off and the sun had thawed the rest, 
we found a large bare place. The mosses 
and lichens looked just as fresh and green 
as if it were midsummer, and, growing close 
on the ground, were lots of last year's ber- 
ries, all the more sweet and juicy for 
their eight months' cold storage. The ptar- 
migan were on hand, too, and I shot two old 
roosters. The male ptarmigan are changing 
now, and specimens shot show some beauti- 
ful mixtures of the bright brown summer 
plumage and the snow-white winter plum- 
age. The willow ptarmigan are all in pairs, 
and, though mostly shy, may be located by 
the loud cackling of the males. A very good 
crust on the snow makes snowshoeing a de- 
light for a few hours, but, like any walking, 
it grows tiresome. One's feet get worn and 
blistered where the foot-straps work. If the 
snow is damp it balls on the center lacing 
and a blister is raised before one knows it. 



CHAPTER XX. 

MAY 6, Saturday, 8 p. m. This is the 
strangest May w r eather I have ever 
experienced. The wind has blown a 
gale from the north without a moment's 
cessation for four days. It is twenty-five de- 
grees below the freezing point. I was in the 
vicinity of the Hanson Camp yesterday, but 
got no birds. I saw only one pair of chick- 
adees and one redpoll. They were never so 
scarce all winter as now. The natives as- 
sure me that a change is due shortly, and 
then there will be " emik apazh," and the 
" ting emeruk " will come. 

The Hanson boys came near getting me 
into serious trouble yesterday. It was one 
of Joe Jury's jokes. When I left his cabin 
I started back into the woods.- Nolan, of the 
Sunnyside, called in. Joe told him that I 
had reported seeing two caribou across the 
river on the way down. Joe garnished the 
tale with a few extra details, and Nolan left 
for Sunnyside pretty well excited. He got 
nearly everyone in camp out before noon. I 
happened along on their trail about four 
o'clock, and the first fellow I met was Nolan, 
just returning from a long tramp. He in- 
formed me that he had seen the caribou 
tracks (?) and wanted to know where I had 
last seen the animals. I was taken by sur- 
prise and told him that I hadn't seen a 



76 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



caribou in Alaska. It then dawned on Nolan 
that he had been the victim of a joke, and 
he was somewhat " beside himself." I tried 
to explain matters by telling him that I had 
said to Joe Jury something about having 
seen " ptarmigan," which no doubt he had 
taken for " caribou." The rest of the fellows 
took the joke all right, but said they would 
" get even " with Joe some way. One man 
fired his rifle at a target and split the barrel 
over two-thirds its length, owing to snow 
in the end, I suppose. The gun was ruined 
and so the joke was a costly one. 

There is a string telephone between two 
cabins at Sunnyside which is a real novelty. 
The box resonators in each cabin are fixed 
up with features like a human face with a 
tin mouth. It was exceedingly funny to see 
the expression on the faces of the natives 
when they first heard that box " talk." 
Greenberg was talking in at the other end, 
and they recognized his voice. One old woman 
fled in terror. She thought it was a " doo- 
nak " (evil spirit). It is no wonder these 
things frighten the Eskimos so. Doubtless 
our own ancestors would have been burned 
at the stake by their townspeople for witch- 
craft in the early days of New England had 
they dared to make a tin box " talk." 

I bought eighteen pounds of No. 8 shot for 
$1.20 at the Hanson Camp. It took me 
nearly three hours to bring it three miles 
against the wind. I had no snowshoes, as 
I had let Brownie have mine when he 
started for the schooner. The extra weight 
was just enough to make me break through 
the crust every five steps, and down I went 
to my knees. That eighteen pounds grew 
to one hundred pounds before I reached 
home. 

John Miller, the cripple, has moved over to 
one of the Iowa cabins, so we are alone for 
the first time in many weeks. Only three of 
us. We cannot use all the game we shoot 
now, and I am rather glad to have the op- 
portunity of giving it to the hungry natives. 
I do not waste a bird body. I give some of 
them to Charley for his mickaninies, and he 
loans me his snowshoes whenever I want 
them for hunting. At first the boys 
dubbed me "the bird fiend," but they have 
quit that now. Too many scurvy victims 
have blessed me for the ptarmigan which, in 
some cases, have been all the fresh meat ob- 
tainable, not to mention our own possible 
suffering had it not been for the birds I 
shot. And now I do not object at all to the 
wordless thanks of these poor natives, who 
devour every scrap of a bird of any sort, 



excepting the skin, which only I claim. I 
save souls, bird skins being the only visible 
or invisible soul of which the creatures are 
possessed. 

"We have just learned of a superstition 
which is the most cruel of any noted among 
these strange people. It has roused our civ- 
ilized horror. A very pretty little girl about 
thirteen years old, who has been the pet of 
the camps all winter, and whom the boys 
have looked upon as a " little sister," has 
been shut up all by herself in a small snow 
cave back in the woods. There she is 
doomed to stay until the snow melts, with- 
out, speaking to anyone or leaving her 
cramped position, with no fire and with only 
such cold food as may be brought to her. 
And she must live alone in such an igloo for 
one year, so their statutes decree. This is 
the law concerning all Kowak-mitt women 
when they are supposed to have reached 
marriageable age. 

This is but the beginning of the little 
woman's punishments, which will be many 
and varied from this date. 

The " cabloonas " around this vicinity are 
very much incensed over this new supersti- 
tious cruelty. To demonstrate our convic- 
tions in the matter, eight of us armed our- 
selves with guns, marched over to the vil- 
lage and demanded that old Omechuck and 
his wife, Atungena, Kalhak's parents, take 
the child back into their igloo. The man laid 
all the blame on the mother and grand- 
mother (as it was in the beginning), and we 
had a big wrangle. We informed them that 
if they did not end this and other cruelties, 
and liberate the girl by to-morrow noon, we, 
would come over in a great body and tear 
down the cave and take her away. They 
were pretty well frightened. It gave us lots 
of fun, though we didn't change our austere 
countenances. We meant what we said. 
Uncle Jimmy headed the expedition. He 
had a great big knife belted on, and we all 
presented a dangerous front. What if the 
Eskimos had taken it seriously and mobbed 
us? Mobbing is not their tendency. They 
are gentle in spite of other things, and were 
actually in fear of our threats. We are not 
sure of the full extent of our influence, but 
we stirred them up and they may conclude 
that this " missionary association " of gold- 
hunters is not here for nothing. Later the 
girl was released. 

May 14, Sunday. Spring is breaking 
the winter's reign at last. The snow has al- 
most disappeared from the sand-dunes and 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



77 



is softening everywhere. Little pools of 
water are appearing in the low places. A 
gentle rain is falling, the first since last Sep- 
tember eight months. The days of slush 
and water are upon us, but oh, such exciting 
days for me! The first geese and gulls have 
arrived, very shy and very few, and I saw 
two swans. They stay about the muddy 
places across the river. I got a fairly good 
shot at a goose, but missed it. Everyone is 
after the poor geese and lots of rifle balls 
are wasted, with never a goose as yet. I 
shot a solitary glaucus-winged gull sitting 
on the ice, with a thirty-calibre Winchester 
rifle at 143 yards range. The bullet 
went straight through the neck, cut- 
ting a very clean way. and the skin 
made a beautiful specimen. Yester- 
day was my red-letter day. I found, 
almost by accident, a jay's nest and 
eggs, the thing I have been looking 
for so constantly for three months. 
I also found a fine set of hawk owls 
six eggs, three newly - hatched 
young and both parents. The nest 
was in a hole in a rotten spruce stub 
about twelve feet above the snow. 
When I tapped on the tree the male, 
which was sitting, left the /nest and 
flew away about a hundred feet, 
turned and made for my head as 
straight and swift as an arrow, 
planting himself full force, and draw- 
ing blood from three claw marks in 
my scalp. My hat was knocked 
about twelve feet and the crown 
torn out. All this the owl did with- 
out stopping in its swoop. I recov- 
ered myself just in time to receive a second 
charge and had to dodge clear to the ground. 
When the courageous defender of home and 
country turned for its third attack a charge 
of No. 10 met it, and it died an honorable 
death, deserving to be ranked among heroes. 
I have the entire set preserved. 

I have a flock of white-winged crossbills 
spotted in a spruce forest ten miles away, 
which I expect will nest in a couple of 
weeks, but I doubt if I can reach the place, 
now the snow is going. I wore snowshoes 
nest-hunting yesterday, but probably for the 
last time this year. It is far easier snow- 
shoeing over the snowy tundras than walk- 
ing through the peat and water and " nigger 
heads " after the snow is gone. 

May 21, Sunday. Uncle Jimmy and Dr. 
Coffin still keep up the Sunday services. 
Three of the Iowa men and half a dozen 



Eskimos have come in. As I have just fin- 
ished a bird I thought it a good idea to 
desist until after church, on Uncle Jimmy's 
account. So, until singing begins, I will 
have a little time to write. I cannot afford 
to waste a second these days. Most of the 
snow is gone. All the ponds and sloughs are 
full of water and the river has risen fully 
eight feet. 

All the slush ice has gone, but the thick 
winter ice is on top and extends unbroken 
down the middle of the river. The Eskimos 
say that if the warm weather and high 
water continue this ice will break up and 




The Prisoner We Rescued. 

float away very soon. And then it would be 
" finis " to bird collecting, for the steamers 
would whistle and we would all have to 
pack up and start. I am just living in dread 
of the " Helen." I would not cry should she 
spring a leak or otherwise disable herself, so 
that she would be laid up until the last of 
June. This is a wicked thought and I repent 
of it. Solitary sandpipers and Baird's sand- 
pipers are here, and I know they will nest 
by the middle of June. Small birds are be 
ginning to arrive. I heard the beautiful song 
of the fox sparrow for the first time this 
morning, also the tree sparrows and varied 
thrush. I saw a single robin yesterday with 
its familiar call note. We have goose din- 
ners galore, but the geese are lean and 
tough, far from such eating as they were in 
the fall. We prefer duck and ptarmigan. 
The doctor has made some very nice cran- 
berry jelly from the berries which have been* 



78 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



stored on the vines under the snow all win- 
ter. The native women and children picked 
over two gallons yesterday, which they 
brought to us. 

May 24.-The Kowak is breaking up and it 
is a tremendous sight. The water has risen 
until it is on a level with the bank on this 
side, and on the opposite side it is spreading 
out over the tundras. It is covered com- 
pletely from side to side with a crunching, 
grinding mass of ice from three to five feet 
thick. Yesterday there was a jam on a 
sand-bar below and the ice course was 
stopped. Then that from above came down 




The Kowak Breaking Up. 

with force, crushing and piling into great 
ridges of blue and green blocks from ten to 
fifteen feet in height. There must be a tre- 
mendous momentum in a moving field of 
ice. In one place a field many yards in 
diameter was forced up a steep bank until it 
toppled over on . itself. The banks are 
plowed by the resistless stream and trees 
are broken off like threads. 

Indian Charley borrowed our kyak, which 
belongs to Rivers, three days ago to go up 
and look after a birch canoe which he 
wanted to carry out of reach of the ice. He 
was only going as far as the Guardian 
Camp, and there was plenty of water along 
the edges there. He was expected back the 
same day, but has not returned yet. We 
fear he has lost his life. His father, an old, 
withered man, who smoked himself last 
winter when Charley was sick, walks the 
river bank all day watching, and yesterday 
afternoon cried and howled a long time, 
mourning " Kayuruk " who, he said, was 
surely " mucky " (dead). I saw a birch 
canoe yesterday crushed and lying on a 
passing cake of ice. 



If this was Charley's he must have met 
with misfortune. One would think that a 
native, who has experienced many such oc- 
currences, would know enough to keep out 
of harm's way. Night before last a couple 
of the Iowa boys spent two or three hours 
tramping through the swamp looking for 
ducks which they kept hearing. But they 
were not able to catch sight of the authors 
of the numerous " quacks," which always 
lured them to greater distance. To-day, 
after telling everyone of the strange birds, 
the boys are being " joshed " in true camp 
fashion. The bullfrogs are appearing in 
every pond and to-day one has begun his 
warble in a pool a few feet from 
the door. We did not expect to 
see frogs so far north. I fail to 
see how they resemble the quack- 
ing of ducks, but some imagine 
the sound to be the same. The 
first mosquitoes are abroad, just 
a few, a sort of " foretaste," ac- 
cording to Scripture. The birds 
are arriving in large numbers, like 
a stampede, and the woods are 
full of the songs of robins, 
thrushes, sparrows and warblers. 
I am working hard, too. 

May 31. Oh, but spring is 
lovely! I am sure I never spent 
three such happy weeks, and 
I have been happy all my life. Yet I have 
been working hard, some days until I 
was tired enough to drop. Last week I went 
up to the mountains and was gone forty- 
three hours, with only about one hour's 
sleep. We tramped fifteen miles across the 
tundra with heavy rubber boots on, sinking 
into the moss and among the " nigger 
heads" every step. And then through 
streams, and snow, and tangles of brush. 
The second day it rained heavily and we 
started home at 7 p. m., tramping until mid- 
night, when we reached a point where we 
had left our boat in a slough about two 
miles below on the opposite side of the Ko- 
wak. While we had been gone the river had 
fallen and the heavy boat was high and dry. 
We had to drag it through a narrow channel 
over mud and grass a hundred yards to the 
river. And then there was a stiff east wind 
and a swift current to cross the river 
against, and we finally had to tow up to the 
landing. There were four of us, including 
Dr. Coffin, who has been my companion in 
many of these bird hunts, so soon, alas! to 
be over. I was so tired when I got in that 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



79 



I fell asleep half undressed and without 
supper. But I obtained what I went for, 
and it was worth the hardships white- 
winged crossbill's nests. Young, an Iowa 
man who was with us, fell to his chest in a 
narrow stream of ice water, and we were 
all soaked from the rain and dripping under- 
brush. 

The river is entirely free of ice now and 
people are starting down. Many are passing 
every day, but they will be unable to go 
farther than the delta, for the Sound doesn't 
clear earlier than July 1. 

We have heard that the " Helen " is all 
right and is expected down in a day or two. 
She may get stuck on a sand-bar. If so I 
shall have a week longer for the birds. We 
have been packing all day. I have a good 
deal of stuff in bulk, though not heavy. I 
wouldn't blame the boys if they " kicked." 
We may have to make two trips from here 
down. We learned that our barge, which 
we left last fall on the bank of the Squirrel 
River eighty miles below us, was burned 
last winter, so our carrying capacity is 
limited. The steamer " Riley " has been re- 
paired. She came up as far as the Hanson 
Camp yesterday. Indian Charley has turned 
up all safe. He has been down to a village 
below, gambling for another wife. 

According to the Eskimos I am to die be- 
fore the snow is all melted off, because I 
robbed that jay's nest. Grass is springing 
up, and last night, while I was strolling 
through the woods, I found a patch of cro- 
cuses. The woods were beautiful, the long, 
deep shadows contrasting with the yellow 
sunlight. The silence was intense, and yet 
there were many sounds the quavering song 
of the thrush, breaking out and then dying 
back; the chorus of frogs from a distant 
pond, and the occasional demoniacal laugh 
of a loon. Yet it was silence broken in 
pieces. The scene from the sand-dunes 
north across the river was most beautiful. 
I wish I were able to depict the scene as I 
perceived it and the indescribable sensations 
it awakened. I wonder if I were the 
same age as Uncle Jimmy if I would be im- 
pressed the same way. It is something for 
me to remember all my life, this wonderful 
winter on the mighty Kowak. And I must 
bid it " Good-by." 

We had a regular thunder storm to-day, 
with a heavy shower which set the roof to 
leaking, in spite of the tents stretched over 
it. Dr. Coffin has inaugurated a new decor- 
ation. It denotes rank of vice-president of 
the L. B. A. M. & T. Co. A double row of 



safety pins up his shirt front. There are 
only three of this illustrious company at 
present in the " Penelope " cabin, but all the 
more need of distinctive decorations. 

B., the partially demented individual who 
might have died of scurvy last winter if we 
hadn't drawn up his " will " for him, is the 
source of amusement to us, with his various 
tricks. He spends most of his time on the 
river bank watching for passing boats. He 
hails everyone with a mixed set of ques- 
tions; first, "Have you any white lead for 
sale?" second, "Did you have the scurvy?" 
third, " Where'd you come from?" etc., until 
the boat is out of hearing. B. has a skiff he 
is very proud of, and he threatens anyone 
who touches it. I am on very good terms 
with him and he tells me whenever he sees 
a goose on the river (usually it is a loon). 
He makes a noise in his throat like a 
chicken disturbed after it has gone to roost. 
I do not know what will become of him. He 
is perfectly harmless. 

This evening I traded three pounds of 
raisins for a sailor bag. I have more clothes 
now than when I left San Francisco, enough 
to last me five years. Dr. Coffin is a real 
convert. He is himself a " bird fiend " now, 
after starting that nickname for me in the 
beginning. He thinks of stopping this sum- 
mer at Dutch Harbor. If it keeps on I shall 
have the whole crew. I think we shall pull 
out from the company entirely and so es- 
cape the turmoil of the ultimate disband- 
ment. There is little hope of realizing from 
the trip, even on the " Penelope." She cost 
us enough in the first place, but who knows 
where she is now? 

I just now thought I heard the whistle of 
the " Helen." There is nothing in sight. 
That " Helen " haunts me. She it is who 
will bear me away from this fascinating 
region. By the way, she has a fine whistle. 
A better one than any other boat on the 
river. Perhaps we can- trade that whistle 
for something, even if nobody will accept 
the gift of the boat and engines. Oh, I for- 
got; there's Cape Nome. The boys there 
may have staked out rich claims for us by 
this time. However, I would be willing to 
trade all my stock in the L. B. A. M. & T. 
Co. for some plaster-of-paris, cotton bat- 
ting and some arsenic. 

June 6. My last date on the Kowak. The 
" Helen " arrived on the evening of the 2d. 
She is O. K. and the eight boys well. They 
brought down with them a man who is 
afflicted with black-leg, too helpless to leave. 



80 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



We shall take him to the Mission, so we are 
now quite a large family. Nearly every- 
one above has already passed down the 
river in all sorts of boats and rafts. We 
have persuaded the rest to remain here a 
few days, as it will be impossible to get into 
the Sound so early. We are having a little 
more time for game. I have taken several 
sets of rare eggs, and have a number of 
nests " spotted." But the boys are getting 
restless and I fear we will have to pull out 
to-morrow or next day. We are living 
" high." A varied assortment was served 




Some Friends We Left Behind. 

up in the fricassee yesterday ten old- 
squaws (.ducks), a curlew, two ptarmigan, 
one loon and a blackbird. Indian Charley 
brought us twenty fish, so we have plenty 
of fresh meat, a welcome change of diet for 
the boys of the upper winter camp, as they 
have not been afflicted with a bird fiend in 
their crowd. 

The steamer " Agnes Boyd " was saved 
from the ice, but is now high and dry on a 
sand-bar and the river is still falling. The 
hanson boys are having a peck of 
trouble and the prospects are now that 
they will not get out until the August rains 
come. I was out collecting until one a. m. 
night before last, and the pink sunlight 
never left the mountain peaks. The trees 
are nearly full foliaged to a beautiful fresh 
green, and several varieties of flowers are 
in bloom. It is too bad to be compelled to 
leave here just at this season. I certainly 
can never regret leaving a place or home so 



much. But such is life. We hesitate moving 
always. And yet who knows but there may 
be better prospects further on? It is with 
something of a lump in my throat and heart 
that I turn my back on what has been the 
scene of such wonderful experiences to me. 
Still I must say it, " Good-by, old Kowak, 
good-by!" Good-by, mice, little redbacks; 
good-by, sand-dunes and tundras, winter, 
spruces, birches, cabin, all. Good-by, Eski- 
mos, funny people, who have a kind heart 
in a little, brown, superstitious body. Here's 
the deserted village for missionary souls, 
houses, woodpiles, pictures yet pinned 
on the walls, echoes of Sunday services 
and literary societies and voices of 
gold hunters. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

JUNE 12. We are steaming down 
one of the numerous channels of 
the Kowak delta, and I am sitting 
on the upper deck of the " Helen." 
The channel is narrow but deep and 
very tortuous. Half an hour ago we 
were going in an exactly opposite di- 
rection. The banks are low and are 
lined continuously with willows whose 
branches have not even budded out, al- 
though up the river we left the trees 
in full foliage, thus indicating the sea- 
son to be much later along the coast 
than in the interior. We have met no 
ice in the stream, but there is plenty 
stranded on the bars. Some Indians 
told us to-day there will be plenty 
of ice in the inlet for many sleeps yet, 
but our boys want to see for themselves. 
I think it a great mistake to have left the 
timber so early. We left our winter home 
on the 8th of June and traveled three days. 
Yesterday we tied up all day at the last 
timber and I put in the time collecting. I 
obtained eight sets of eggs, a little brown 
crane skin put up. greasy as a duck, besides 
several small birds. I put in every minute 
on shore and am getting some good things, 
sets of varied* thrush, gray-cheeked thrush, 
etc. 

We got a good deal of game yesterday. 
Everything that has meat on it goes into the 
pot. The fricassee to-day consisted of a 
crane, two ducks and a loon, all cut up and 
boiled together. Jesse Farrar is cook; 
Stevenson is fireman; Casey, engineer; Wil- 
son and Foote, pilots; Shafer, Shaul. Uncle 
Jimmy and I, deck hands; the doctor and 
Colclough comprise the fire department. 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



81 



And this last is a very important organiza- 
tion. Sparks from the smoke stacks catch 
on sacks or anything inflammable and soon 
start a smudge. The fire department imme- 
diately " smell smoke," and extinguish the 
conflagration with a teacup of water. The 
usual seat of combustion is Casey's jumper. 
Then the back of the boiler gets almost red 
hot and several planks get to scorching, and 
even some of the cargo is in danger. With 
its other duties the department has put in 
ventilators, so we have less trouble. The 
crowd is in very good spirits. The quartette 
is frequently heard, and just before bed- 
time Poote gets out his banjo. 

This morning we passed a camp of natives. 
Six of their kyaks came out and followed 
us a long way. They could sail circles 
around the scow. They are very dextrous 
with their funny craft. Just before leaving 
us they sang in chorus " There'll Be a Hot 
Time." Evidences of the great Kotzebue 
rush will be found among the Eskimos, in 
their language as well as in other ways, for 
many years to come. 

A cold west wind from off the sea ice 
blows constantly, and the weather is not to 
be compared with what we left at " home." 
My sorrow at leaving the cabin does not 
lessen. The " Helen " is loaded very heavily, 
but we managed to get everything on. We 
have great times keeping her on an even 
keel. The order, " Everyone go aft," or, 
" Everyone go forward," is frequently heard. 
She only stuck on a bar once coming down, 
and then there wasn't much trouble in get- 
ting her off. That is one thing in which our 
steamer excels many others. It is difficult 
to make her run aground hard enough to 
stick. She doesn't move fast enough. The 
wheel has been enlarged, but it makes little 
difference in her speed; the engines are not 
large enough. Stevenson keeps from 150 to 
175 pounds of steam in her boiler, which is 
really more than ought to be carried for 
safety. It is getting cold up here on deck, 
and I am going down to the boiler-room to 
warm up. 

June 18. This is Sunday und Uncle Jimmy 
thinks I ought to do something besides skin 
birds all day, so probably the most righteous 
act would be to write in my mother's diary. 
It is a very disagreeable day. It has snowed 
heavily all day, melting as fast as it falls 
and sticking to everything. We have the 
big 12 x 20 tent up among the spruces, and 
the cooking range keeps the interior quite 
pleasant. 



The crowd has been in the tent all day 
singing and reading, while I have one end 
of the long table for "the morgue." The 
Iowa party is camped near us, and their 
launch " Iowa " takes trips every other day 
to the inlet ten miles down the river, to see 
the state of the ice. Shaul went down with 
her yesterday, but they report the ice packed 
firmly in the inlet and as far as they could 
see towards Kotzebue Sound. We are 
camped in the timber at the mouth of the 
Kowak. A couple of warm days last week 
brought a foretaste of the mosquito scourge 
which we expect, but they do not promise 
to bother me much. Dr. Coffin is so kind to 
me. He hunts birds' eggs and gives me 
more than my share. Even Uncle Jimmy 
hunts nests in the woods, having located 
five for me in the last two days. Some of 
the good things we have taken are the little 
brown cranes, black-throated loon, Hud- 
sonian curlew and scaup duck. We were out 
over the tundra all day yesterday and did 
not get back until this morning. I remem- 
bered that it was my little brother's birth- 
day (the one who is so fond of insects), and 
I managed to catch two butterflies with my 
hat for him. I saw several, but they were 
pretty active, and it is hard running over 
the mossy hummocks and bogs after them. 
I shot a crane yesterday and the doctor got 
one a few days before. They are fine eat- 
ing, better than any birds except ptarmigan. 
We have two seines, and Casey, Shafer and 
Foote comprise the fishery department. Dr. 
Coffin and I keep the camp in game, so we 
have plenty of fresh meat. We got three 
dozen duck eggs one day, and now Shafer 
makes fine cookies and doughnuts. I 
blow all the fresh eggs, and the contents are 
therefore all ready for " scrambles " or bak- 
ing. 

We are a jolly crowd and no one would 
believe us to be disappointed gold-hunters. 
The main occupation of- this branch of the 
L. B. A. M. & T. Co. at present is bird-nest- 
ing. I hope we have to stay here two weeks 
yet. Day and night are all the same to us 
nowadays. I seldom get to bed before one 
a. m., and am up for breakfast at eight. The 
snow is beginning to stay this evening and 
the landscape is whitening. This is such 
weather as the old Arctic explorers met with 
all summer when they suffered so much 
from exposure, but a warm, dry tent like 
ours, with plenty of wood, keeps us comfort- 
able and very far from martyrs to the 
" cause." The winds are very chilly, and I 
really suffered more from cold last night as 



82 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



we were sailing up the river to camp than I 
did all last winter. It is hard to keep one's 
feet dry. If I wear hip boots I am sure to 
step into some hole in a swamp and get 
them full. One time I went in to my waist 
by surprise when I was wading in the edge 
of a pond after a grebe's nest. For an in- 
stant I was deprived of speech, which was a 
great hardship. The ice is getting "rotten " 
rapidly, with the heavy winds breaking it 
up. 

Kowak Delta, Sunday, June 25. I am sit- 
ting on a heap of spruce boughs before an 




Steamer on the River. 

open fire in the woods. There is a heavy 
wind blowing and the tents and steamer at 
the river bank are altogether too airy. This 
is a much more sheltered and comfortable 
spot. We have been at this camp two weeks, 
but will probably pull out to-morrow and go 
down to the mouth of the river, and, as soon 
as the weather is favorable, go across the 
dreaded Holtham Inlet and on to the Mis- 
sion. The launch " Iowa " reports the ice 
breaking up at the river mouth and moving 
out. For a while there was quite a large 
community of tents along the river each side 
of ours, but they have all started down now. 
The " Agnes Boyd " passed us, having been 
laid up on a bar several days. She brought 
the sad news of the death of Jack Messing, 
one of the San Jose crew of the Hanson 
Camp. He was found dead in his bed on the 
steamer. Five other men were sleeping 



with him, but noticed nothing unnatural un- 
til they attempted to arouse him for break- 
fast. Jack was a sociable, good-hearted 
fellow, and many were the pleasant visits 
exchanged between him and members of our 
camp last winter. It is reported that an In- 
dian shot two white men over on the Selawik 
this spring. As the natives tell the story, 
the Indian was entirely justified. They 
forced him to mend a sled at the muzzle of a 
revolver, and scared him so that he finally 
tried to run away. They picked up rifles 
and started after him. But he got behind a 
tree with his own rifle and anticipated them 
to the number of one man. 
_ ^__ M- _ - . Many men are still crippled 
with the scurvy. On the 
Pick River fifty-two men 
out of sixty were down with 
black-leg. The schooner 
" Life " wintered near Sela- 
wik Lake with nine men 
aboard. Missionary Samms 
received word by the Eski- 
mos that these men were 
sick with the scurvy and 
were helpless. So he set out 
to their aid. He returned a 
few days ago. reporting that 
five out of the nine had died 
and the other four were re- 
covering. It is an awful 
disease, and many more 
have perished from that 
cause than from disaster or 
accident. It is strange that 
our company has escaped 
so far all such mishaps, but 
we are not out of danger yet. 
As we see them, the general run of people 
are impatient to get home, are cross and 
quarrelsome. Many are the " scraps " and 
differences among companies. It is a com- 
mon thing to hear men cursing each other 
bitterly over such trivialities as loading a 
boat or setting up a tent. Sometimes part- 
ners will divide their supplies, even break- 
ing a spoon or knife in two to " make it 
even." I am glad to say that our crowd is 
remarkably free from such things. The 
usual sounds are of singing and joviality. 
The doctor and I have frequent friendly 
word fights over such topics as, "Which 
way the wind blows to bring rain." whether 
a " light object floats down stream as fast 
as a heavy one;" or, "how close to the wind 
we can sail the boat." But if there is one 
of us assailed on any point by anyone else 
we both agree at once, and bring consterna- 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



83 



tion to the ranks of the enemy. Someone 
made the statement the other day that a 
razor becomes sharper if left for a while 
unused, and every man except the doctor 
and myself was of the same mind. Think 
of such a tradition in this enlightened age! 
Several maintained that for that reason they 
kept two razors, using them alternate weeks. 
When we especially feel the need of mental 
exercise, the doctor and I argue on physical 
and mental evolution, and on this subject 
the other boys let us alone for good reasons. 

Last night the doctor, Casey and I went 
hunting, and did not return before 2 a. m. 
this morning. We started about four and 
went up a slough until we came to open 
tundra. It began storming about eight and 
blew and rained heavily all night. We had 
agreed to be back to the skiff by nine, and 
Casey and I were on hand before that time, 
but the doctor did not appear. In spite of 
our oil coats we were soon wet and shiver- 
ing. After waiting a while and hearing no 
shooting which might announce the doctor's 
approach, we set out and walked to where 
he was last seen by us at the edge of a lake, 
but could discover no sign. We began to be 
alarmed and, returning to the slough, spent 
a couple of the most miserable hours. We 
managed to start a fire at the foot of a soli- 
tary scrub spruce and were speculating 
gloomily as to what might have happened, 
when we heard a distant shot. The doctor 
came wearily tramping across the tundra, 
and was more happy than we to get back to 
the boat. He had become mixed up among 
some sloughs and lakes. He had followed 
around a large lake several miles, only to 
find progress stopped by a slough joining 
that lake with another. He then retraced 
his steps to his first starting point and be- 
gan over again. His boots were full of 
water and he was of course drenched, for 
he had left his oil coat at the boat. When 
we got home we were glad to find Shafer up 
and a warm tent. He got us a hot supper 
and to-day we are none the worse. The doc- 
tor got an old goose with her four downy 
young. I found a set of pin-tail's eggs and 
shot some ducks and a ptarmigan. 

The tundra is curiously marked off in 
many places by ridges and ditches running 
at right angles to one another. The ditches 
are full of water, and the tundra resembles 
a California alfalfa field laid off in squares 
by irrigating ditches. I cannot think of a 
cause for this formation. The numerous 
lakes and ponds are many of them higher 
than the surrounding laud, and are hemmed 



in by dykes three or four feet high. These 
are thrown up by the floes of ice in the 
lakes which, decreasing in size as the sum- 
mer advances, are driven back and forth 
across the lakes by changing winds, and 
thus crowd up the mud and sod around the 
edges. The dryer parts of the tundra are 
covered with the white reindeer moss, really 
a lichen, and under and among this a thick 
mat of sphagnum and other mosses. This 
is soaked full of water, and it is like walking 
over a bed of sponges, where one " sloshes " 
in five or six inches at every step, to travel 
over such ground. Then on lower ground 
a sort of bunch grass grows in big, stout 
tussocks, " nigger heads," with water and 
loose moss between. This last is the worst 
walking. 

CHAPTER XXII. 

MISSION INLET, Cape Blossom, July 1, 
1899. We came across Holtham Inlet 
in good order Tuesday. That was the 
only day so far that any steamers have come 
through. The weather was fine for us and 
a broad channel was open and clear of ice 
as far as the Mission. The same evening a 
west wind arose and the ice has been shift- 
ing back and forth across the inlet ever 
since. The " Riley," " Agnes Boyd," " De- 
light," " Mattie Farington," " Nugget," and 
" Iowa " came through the same day, and 
all are here in the little harbor safe from the 
ice floes. The sea ice stretches unbrokenly 
from a couple of miles below the Mission 
across to the north side of the Sound, and 
no one has been able to get in or out of the 
Sound except a couple of natives, who 
crossed from Point Hope on a sled. They 
report the ice as firm as winter, with no 
prospect of its breaking up, and say that it 
will be " twenty sleeps " before we can ex- 
pect to get through, and " maybe the ice 
won't break up at all." The beach from 
here to the Mission is lined with tents and 
presents quite an animated scene. Every- 
one expects to go to Cape Nome as early as 
possible. We have no word from our good 
ship " Penelope " later than May 3, and she 
was all right then. She wintered seventy 
miles below Cape Blossom. The weather is 
very cold and disagreeable. Heavy winds 
bring penetrating fogs from off the ice, with 
storms of rain and sleet, and we have had a 
heavy snowstorm. We have our two 10 x 20 
tents up, end to end, on the gravel bar sep- 
arating the " goose pond " from the Sound, 
and have very comfortable quarters. In one 



84 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



tent is the cook stove and dining-table. and 
the other is a sort of parlor with the big 
heater in use. We loaded up heavily with 
wood before leaving timber on the Kowak, 
but I think we shall have to make another 
trip for wood before long. Everything in 
the line of driftwood is cleaned up in this 
vicinity, but there will be the usual annual 
crop when the ice breaks up. 

I just now heard a gull squalling and ran 
out with my gun in time to get a shot at a 
Pomarine jager which was in pursuit of it. 
I got the jager all right and it is a fine bird, 
the first I have obtained of this species. The 
long-tailed and parasitic jagers are quite 
common. I found a nest of each on the 
Kowak delta. Yesterday I found four sets 
of the eggs of the northern phalarope, and 
shot three golden plover, which are the first 
I have taken. Collecting now is very un- 
comfortable. I w r ear the same heavy mit- 
tens, July 1, which I wore all winter, and 
in fact heavier clothing all through than was 
worn at thirty degrees below zero. Our 
warm parlor tent is quite an attraction and 
we have plenty of company as usual with 
us. We are talking about mail. No news 
from the outside world since September 15 
of last year. 

July 15. Somewhere in Bering Sea off the 
Alaskan Coast. I am sitting on the coal-box 
in the galley on board the " Penelope." I 
am a fixture between the fire-box of the 
cooking range and the window, and have to 
flatten myself against the wall to keep from 
burning my clothes. There are four " gal- 
ley slaves " in this 6x8 coop, but this is 
absolutely the only place possible to write 
in. The sea is smooth, with a light breeze, 
which is ahead. Foggy as usual and very 
chilly. The galley is the only place except 
in bed where one can warm up, and it is in 
pretty lively demand whenever the cook 
does not claim full possession. There are 
twenty-four men aboard, but all have gone 
to bed save the captain and three men on 
watch. The captain has scarcely slept a 
wink since we started a week ago. The 
strong currents, unfavorable winds, and 
thick weather are retarding us unexpectedly. 

We were watching on the Sound on July 3 
when two schooners were sighted through 
the ice off Cape Blossom. On the 4th five of 
us went out in a small boat and were de- 
lighted to find one of them to be the " Pen- 
elope," all safe and in good time. Captain 
Delano and the four boys, Miller, Clyde, 
Brown and Rivers, must have Ijad a very 



rough experience, being on duty twenty-four 
hours at a time. The ice in Escholtz Bay, 
where the schooner wintered, began break- 
ing up and moving out on June 15, and from 
that date until she anchored off Cape Blos- 
som, the " Penelope " and her little crew 
were at the mercy of the ice floes. They 
had very narrow escapes from being pinched 
between floes or crowded aground. Once 
they were forced on a bar and only got the 
ship out of her danger by breaking the ice 
up around her and " kedging " out. At one 
place their stint of open water was narrow- 
ing, as the ice pack drifted toward shore, 
and something had to be done immediately 
or they were lost. A strong off-shore wind 
was blowing, and the captain set all sail 
and headed straight for the ice. When the 
" Penelope " met it with full force she raised 
herself up, sliding gracefully on to the floe, 
and then her weight broke it down. Then 
she plowed through the ice until she 
reached a strip of open water beyond, where 
she was safe for the time being. And with 
all her battlings the " Penelope " came 
through with scarcely more than a skin 
scratch on her sides. Before the ice broke 
up the captain had repaired her, painting 
her white with blue trimmings, and renovat- 
ing her from deck to hold. Six vessels win- 
tered near her and their captains all agree 
that it was little less than a miracle that 
any were saved. Two, the " Ainsworth " 
and one other, were wrecked by the ice. 
The " General McPherson " and " Penelope " 
had about the best anchorage for the winter, 
in a cove behind the Chain Peninsular. 

July 5 and 6 were stormy and nothing 
could be done but straighten out accounts 
with various parties at the Mission. Many 
who left earlier in the Cape Nome rush, bor- 
rowed or bought provisions from the stores 
on the " Penelope," and left orders for us to 
collect from their representatives when we 
should get down in July. They thus saved 
the labor of hauling their stuff on the first 
part of their trip, as the " Penelope " was a 
hundred miles on the way. We have heard 
nothing of our Cape Nome contingent. On 
July 7 we had fine, calm weather, and 
loaded the " Penelope," making two trips 
out to where she was anchored, nine miles 
from the Mission off Cape Blossom. These 
two trips were our last with the " Helen." 
We also took on six passengers and their 
freight to Cape Nome, besides two sailors 
who worked their passage. It was decided 
that the poor " Helen " must be left, and, in 
case we should not return for her this sum- 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



85 



mer, Missionary Samms could have her. 
She never could stand a sea, and if we took 
her machinery back to San Francisco it 
would not be worth much more than old 
iron. There goes $1,800! Be this her epi- 
taph: "She served her purpose, if she was 
slow." 

We set sail southeast from Cape Blossom 
on the 8th and anchored off Chamisso Island 
on the 9th for water. It was too rough to 
load the water tanks until night, and we had 
until midnight on the island. I was de- 
lightedfairly wild! There are big rookeries 
of murres, puffins and gulls on a detached 
islet, and a party of us made landing and 
collected forty dozen eggs. I went over the 
cliffs on a rope and was hauled up and down 
their faces. There was little danger except 
from falling rocks which might be loosened 
above me, and we were always very careful 
about that. I had a good crew, with Dr. 
Coffin as foreman. The murres lay their 
eggs on little projections or narrow shelves 
of rocks on the face of the cliff, in most 
places entirely inaccessible save from above. 
At the last descent I had one scare. 
Whether the boys above me had an equal 
scare I will leave them to say. I was about 
fifty feet below the edge of a precipice and 
probably the same distance above the rocks 
in the surf. I had obtained everything 
within reach and had yelled to " hoist 
away," but got no response. I was too far 
down to hear the voices of those above, 
neither could they hear me. The rope didn't 
budge and I continued swaying in uncer- 
tainty in mid-air, rather dubious as to the 
result. Finally I gave a successful " yank " 
on the rope, and was then jerked upward at 
a great rate of speed, scraping my elbows 
and shins in my frantic efforts against being 
thumped against the sharp projecting rocks. 
When I rose over the edge I found six men 
on the rope. Three were usually sufficient, 
but this last trip the three could not start 
the rope, and not until the sixth man, Casey, 
took hold, did it give an inch. We found 
that the rope had caught in a narrow chink 
in the rocks. Had it required one more man 
to start me, where would he have been 
found? I probably should have been left to 
swing for many hours. But I wasn't. Noth- 
ing happened wherewith to satisfy the ad- 
venture-loving and " narrow escape " crav- 
ing modern journal, and I haven't all the 
eggs blown yet. Either I have been seasick 
or on duty. Besides, popular sentiment is 
against me. The boys don't like the idea of 
eating the egg after it is blown by my pipe 



from the shell. In vain I assure them that 
the blow-pipe is thoroughly disinfected ac- 
cording to the latest advices of science. 
They insist upon seeing the shells cracked 
open, lest there might lurk some hidden 
secret within known only to Shafer and my- 
self. This new lack of faith on the part of 
the hitherto " nice boys " is very disastrous 
to scientific investigation. I thmk they 
might trust me, for I eat at the same table 
and get away with my share of doughnuts 
and cookies. I leave it to Shafer if I don't. 
Dr. Coffin and Rivers have taken the egg 
craze, so between us three I hope a good 
series will be saved out of the lot. 

On Chamisso Island we saw records 
carved on logs in a fair state of preservation 
of the visit of " H. B. M. S. Blossom, 1826," 




Iceberg. 

" H. B. M. S. Herald, 1848," and some Rus- 
sian vessel 1837. Those were some of the 
old Arctic explorers. 

At 2 a. m. July 10, the " Penelope " set sail 
westward out of Kotzebue Sound, and after 
dodging through scattering ice and close 
along the south shore, sometimes in thirteen 
feet of water, she got safely out into the 
open beyond Cape Espinberg. We, with one 
other, were the first boats out this year. 
The ice opened first this season on just the 
opposite side of the Sound to that of last 
year. We had a good gale in the Arctic and 
another in Bering Sea just after getting 
through the Straits. It was fearfully rough 
and how the " Penelope" did pitch and roll! 
Worse than any time in the Pacific last year. 
I was seasick and so was almost everyone. 

I belong to the Sailors' Union this year. 
Brownie is assistant cook, as I was last 
year. W T e sailors are divided into watches 
of four hours each, three men in each watch, 
giving one hour and twenty minutes at the 
wheel to each man. I, with Clyde and 



86 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



Rivers, am on from 12 to 4. Eight hours a 
day on deck and sixteen off, doesn't read like 
hard work, but it's plenty. 

We have had only the worst weather. 
Until we got through the Straits we encoun- 
tered frequent squalls of snow and sleet. 
To-day it has been rainy and foggy. It is 
difficult to keep one's hands and feet warm 
during the hour and twenty minutes at the 
wheel, even with our best clothing on. I 
could not report for duty during the gales. 
We have seen several vessels, and last night 
spoke the whaling tender " Bonanza." Her 
captain yelled at us that there is " A big 
strike at Cape Nome!" I am inclined to 
think that the whole world is making fun at 
the expense of these " fool gold-hunters," as 




Off Cape Nome. 

we are called. I wish I were at Dutch Har- 
bor collecting birds. Later, 11 : 30. A breeze 
has sprung up favorably and the captain 
says we are within fifty miles of Cape 
Nome. 

Cape Nome, July 20. Got in all safe and 
anchored close off shore. Boys have located 
seven claims not yet developed. Plenty of 
gold in sight. Hurrah for the Arctic gold- 
hunters of the "Penelope" crew! 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

NOME, July 26. After an eleven 
) days' voyage from Kotzebue Sound 
we anchored off Anvil City on the 
morning of the 20th. Those eleven days 
make a nightmare. A succession of head 
gales with dense fogs. We were almost 



within sight of our destination when a 
southeaster began to hum through the rig- 
ging and a thick fog set in. The "Pen- 
elope " hove to and for two days we ex- 
perienced a mtist disagreeable combination 
of rolling and pitching, with their inevitable 
conditions. When the clouds finally lifted 
we were back in Bering Straits. The north- 
ward current is remarkably strong at this 
season and it is almost impossible to stem 
it unless there is a fair wind, which in our 
case did finally favor us. We found our 
Cape Nome representatives all here save 
Cox, who was left with some claims toward 
Fish River. All are well, but from their 
account they must have had some sorry ex- 
periences. Dr. Gleaves, Gale and party were 
lost in the overland 
trip and ran out of 
provisions, resort- 
ing to their seven- 
teen dogs for food 
in the last pinch. 
They finally 
reached supplies 
with barely enough 
meat for two days 
longer. Close 
shave. The body of 
Dr. De France of 
the " Iowa " party, 
was found frozen 
in the trail in the 
mountains. 

On the 22d the 
" Penelope " sailed 
up the coast to our 
claims, which are 

located on the beach seven miles west of 
Anvil City. Here we have unloaded sup- 
plies and will proceed to work the claims 
far enough to see what they are good 
for. I have not visited " town " yet, 
but there must be two thousand in- 
habitants living mostly in tents or drift- 
wood shacks. Several warehouses have 
been built and two substantial frame build- 
ings are going up. They say there are ten 
thousand men in this district, mostly scat- 
tered out among the hills. Five thousand 
claims are recorded, but of these only about 
a dozen are known to be of value. Four 
are so far being worked, but these I know 
to be extremely rich, for anyone can look on 
and see the " shining " as it is separated 
from the gravel in the sluice boxes. Shafer 
and Stevenson were at these workings a day 
or two ago and saw two shovelfuls taken 
up indiscriminately pan out one $6 and the 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



87 



other $8. These rich claims are in little 
caiions or ravines seven miles back from the 
coast in the hills. This is really a gold bear- 
ing region, for one can find colors almost 
anywhere. We can get from twenty-five to 
two hundred colors to a pan on our claims 
here, but they are very fine, and I doubt 
their being saved in sluice boxes. The 
beach claims contain plenty of gold, but it 
will require improved machinery to make 
them pay. 

I have left my bird skins and everything 
except a single change of clothing on the 
" Penelope," as we all have done. But I am 
afraid my collection is liable to damage from 
rats or mould. There is no place on shore 
to put the stuff and no through vessels that 
I know of to ship 
it by. The " Pen- 
elope " left night 
before last to take 
a prospecting party 
thirty miles down 
the coast to exam- 
ine some country 
there and then to 
visit the claims 
where Cox was 
left. Nine of us 
are left here, with 
Harry Reynolds as 
foreman. We are 
at present digging 
holes in various 
places to see if we 
can find the "pay 
streak." No suc- 
cess yet. The 
gold on the beach 

is not " wash " cjold, but no doubt comes 
from the bluff which borders the beach 
about one hundred feet back from the 
surf. From this bluff the smooth tundra ex- 
tends back some five miles to the hills. An- 
vil City is at the mouth of Snake River, 
which extends back through the hills and 
heads in the high mountain ranges which 
we can just see through the gap. Anvil 
Creek, Snow Gulch and Glacier Creek, the 
rich spots, are tributaries of Snake River. 
To the westward is Penny River, but this 
whole country, including thirty miles along 
the water front, is all staked out. The dis- 
trict is under military control, and twenty 
soldiers are stationed at Anvil City. With- 
out them there might be trouble. It seems 
that the first men to this region, the so-called 
" discoverers," staked out as many as one 
hundred claims each under power of attor- 



ney. They then formed a mining district 
and passed a law that powers of attorney 
cannot hold, thus handicapping those who 
have come in since, so one man can take up 
but one claim. The other night a miners' 
meeting was called in town to consider the 
matter. A resolution was brought up which, 
if carried, would throw the whole district 
open to be restaked. The lieutenant was 
there and he knew that if this passed there 
would be serious trouble. He informed the 
meeting that if this resolution was brought 
up he would clear the house. After some 
deliberation the resolution was couched in 
a different form, disguising its intent, but 
the officer kept his word and ordered the 
house cleared. There was some hesitation 




Main Street, Anvil City. 

and several toughs even looked resistance, 
but the order was given to fix bayonets. 
The meeting was thus broken up and noth- 
ing more has been done. 

The original staking was doubtless unfair, 
but if the district were now reopened it 
would be worse. There 'is little lawlessness 
in Anvil City, on account of the militia. A 
good many claims have been jumped and 
some of them two or three times. This will 
give work to the lawyers. Several of our 
own claims have been jumped, but we are 
on them now and possession is nine points 
of the law. 

July 30. This is Sunday and a day of rest 
for us. We have worked pretty hard the 
past week. In fact this is the first mining 
the L. B. A. M. & T. Co. has done. Prospect 
holes have been dug in different parts of the 
claims. Uncle Jimmy and I were set to dig- 



88 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



ging a hole back on the tundra, and if any- 
one doubts the work is hard let him try it 
for himself. We worked three days and got 
to a depth of ten feet with no favorable re- 
sults. The tundra is thawed barely through 
its covering of moss, seldom more than six 
inches. The rest of the way the frozen 
ground was as hard as rock and had to be 
chipped off bit by bit. The hole was about 
four by five feet, just room enough to wield 
a heavy pick. We broke the points off the 
pick every day. A strata of pure ice a foot 
thick was encountered, but most of the way 
we worked through a sort of frozen muck or 
packed mass of unrotted vegetation which, 
when it thaws, looks and smells like barn- 
yard filth. 

After the first day the walls began to melt 
and cave in little by little, so that each morn- 
ing and noon we would have to bale out a 
foot or more of mud and water. It was 
about as dirty work as one can imagine. 
The fresh clods, as we picked them out of 
the bottom, were so cold that for a time 
frost formed on the outside just like a cold 
piece of iron brought into a warm room in 
winter. Although as cold as a refrigerator 
down in the pit, the perspiration poured off 
from us from the stifling air. Only one of 
us at a time could work in the hole, so we 
had half hour shifts, Uncle Jimmy and I. 
The man on the outside had to haul up the 
bucketfuls of dirt and water, but he other- 
wise rested. After our long yachting trip 
this work was especially hard. But such 
labor gives one a tremendous appetite. Jesse 
Farrar is cook now. Shafer has deserted 
the company. He has obtained a position in 
a restaurant uptown at $150 per month and 
expenses, with prospects of $200 next month. 
C. C. Reynolds, Dr. Coffin, Clyde, Baldwin 
and Colcough have left on the steamer 
" Albion " for home. Yes, for home! All 
have made satisfactory arrangements with 
the company. As to the rest of us who 
" stay by the ship," there are none but could 
better his condition by leaving the company. 
But we who have a good deal of money in- 
vested, hate to leave everything when affairs 
are looking better than ever before. 

We are in a gold country here and none 
can tell what may turn up. I never saw a 
single color in the Kowak region, but here 
the sand is sprinkled with them, though not 
in paying quantities everywhere. I must 
admit that even I, who do not know what 
homesickness is, would like very well to be 
at home for a while. I am losing time now. 
No matter if I were shoveling gravel and 



digging holes, that isn't improving myself 
any, is it? 

I am still intent upon Dutch Harbor as 
soon as the company leaves Alaska. I do 
not suppose I will ever return to Alaska 
again, and I think a few months among the 
Aleutians would be time well put in, in 
the natural history line. 

By the way, " Uncle S.," the Quaker gold- 
hunter whom we had given up for lost last 
winter, came aboard the " Penelope " when 
we first anchored at Anvil City. He has 
bought a small steam launch and makes 
money ferrying people and their goods up 
and down the coast The Snake River is not 
navigable except after heavy rains. I have 
also seen the " Flying Dutchman " here. He 
is gray. He had black hair and beard last 
fall. His forced journey ings over the frozen 
Arctic have left a witness to his hard- 
ships. The " Bear " came in last night from 
Kotzebue Sound, bringing eighty victims of 
scurvy. The sickness up there has been 
awful this spring and the death rate as 
high as ten per cent. 

We hear of a great many disasters. There 
are but few who would spend another win- 
ter on the Kowak for a mint of gold, unless 
it be myself. To crown it all, we have news 
of a strike on the Kowak! " Nuggets as big 
as hickory nuts!" This story, when we are 
scarcely four hundred miles away from 
there! Somebody is starting another boom. 
This may start some more "fools " up there. 
But it will take something new to get any of 
us back. We have bit at " the hickory nut " 
once, and I do not think we shall again. We 
hear that the transportation companies are 
booming this country. It is overrun now 
and there is sure to be crowding. Wages are 
five to eight dollars a day back at the mines, 
but only a limited number of men can get 
employment at that. Expenses are high, 
and a man had better stick to $1.50 per day 
back in civilization than to come here and 
sleep on the damp ground in a tent without 
a fire and live on salt-horse and beans. 

The hot weather is upon us at last and the 
last four days have been " sweaters." It is 
like an oven in the tent where I am writing. 
Dr. Coffin got us each a box of lemons and 
oranges on the " Alaska," just in, before he 
left. Jesse just brought in a big stew kettle 
full of ice-cold lemonade. Two bowls full 
just serve to make one want more. It tastes 
so good. We have had, one mess of fresh 
potatoes and onions. We ate the latter raw 
with vinegar. It does a fellow good to be 
without such things a while, if not too 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



89 



long. He knows better how to appreciate 
them. 

And now I record a fact that ought to 
make every face blush that turns an upward 
glance at Old Glory. The United States has 
passed " a law," permitting saloons in Cape 
Nome. The natives get all they want and 
are killing each other when drunk. The na- 
tive girl who mends some of our shoes, came 
in drunk, and when sober she was asked 
where she obtained the liquor. She gave the 
name of the man. Our foreman told him 
that he would report him to the captain of 
our squad, and was offered $50 by the crim- 
inal to " keep mum." 

Aug. 5. It is nothing now but " work " 
from 7 a. m. to 6 p. m. After ten hours of it 
one is more ready to rest than to write. I 
do not get a minute to so much as look at a 
bird except Sunday, which we have voted to 
observe. And then there is plenty to fill in 
every minute when one comes along, includ- 
ing mending and washing. But I can 
scarcely help seeing the birds that fly past 
along the beach just as if to taunt me. 
Bands of Pacific kittiwakes pass up and 
down the surf on the lookout for herrings, 
and an occasional glaucus, or rather the 
Port Barrow gull, comes sailing along. A 
pair of Arctic terns feeding their full-grown 
young, afford almost the only bird notes of 
any kind. The young have a pleading, and 
yet harshly strong, succession of calls, and 
hover along the beach ever ready for the 
fish caught in the surf by the parent birds. 
The precision with which the terns can drop 
on a tiny fish or crustacean in the boiling 
surf is remarkable. And yet they seem so 
light on the wing and nse from the water 
with so little apparent exertion. Long- 
tailed jagers are common, coursing back 
and forth over the tundra or poising against 
the wind with fluttering wings much like a 
sparrow-hawk. Their long, pointed, streamer- 
like, central tail feathers distinguish them 
at almost any distance from the other 
jagers. They feed on meadow mice and 
caterpillars mostly, but their habit of forc- 
ing gulls to disgorge is of frequent notice. 
As there are no mud flats or marshes here 
the waders are scarce. I saw a godwit, 
probably the Pacific, flying back toward the 
interior. Several golden plover, which I 
have no doubt are rearing their young, are 
always on the back part of our claims. 
Their melodious, warbling call reminds me 
strongly of the robin. These plover show 
decided preference for the dryest tundra and 



uplands, and at Cape Blossom I found them 
on the hillsides in the interior of the penin- 
sula. One day last week while I was at 
work in a prospect hole back of the bluff, 
three turnstones lit in the mossy hummocks 
within a few yards of me. They were very 
tame and remained an hour or more near 
me, feeding on insects or their larvae. I have 
never taken this species (the common turn- 
stone), although I saw it at Cape Prince of 
Wales and Cape Blossom, and tried hard to 
get some specimens. I took several of the 
black turnstones in Sitka in 1896, and also in 
San Clemente Island last year. Black- 
throated loons are numerous and are con- 
stantly seen and heard overhead as they fly 
back and forth from the lakes on the 
tundra to their feeding grounds out at sea. 
This is the only loon I have seen here, 
though I saw the red-throated at Kotzebue. 
I have kept special watch for the yellow- 
billed loon which is ascribed to this region, 
but have never identified it. The Eskimos 
make clothing of loon skins, and I have par- 
ticularly examined such evidences, but have 
never found a scrap of yellow-billed loon 
skin. This species cannot therefore be very 
numerous. Land birds are very scarce here, 
probably on account of the awful barren- 
ness of the region. I flushed one snowy owl 
back of camp one day, and the boys say they 
saw a hawk of some kind yesterday, I think 
from their description a gyrfalcon. I saw 
two juvenile Lapland longspurs yesterday 
feeding about the bluff, and also heard a yel- 
low wagtail. I have noted a pair of juvenile 
redpolls several times along the bluff. 

This, I think, comprises our avifauna up to 
date, and it will be seen that a collector 
would have rather " slim picking." They 
tell me that back in the hills where the ra- 
vines are lined with willow scrubs, birds 
are more numerous and that large flocks of 
juvenile ptarmigan are appearing. I would 
like to go back and see i-f this is true, but it 
is all " business " now. The financial pros- 
pects of our party are brightening every day. 
Our beach claims may become a paying 
proposition when properly developed. Eight 
or ten of us are working on one of them in 
a very crude fashion, using " rockers," and 
are taking out $50 to $60 per day. With im- 
proved machinery this would be a rich thing, 
but of course considerable capital would be 
required to start. I am " cleaner-up;" tak- 
ing out the previous day's clean-up, which 
consists of several pans of mixed black sand 
and gold dust (the latter in smallest propor- 
tion), and panning it down so far as I can 



90 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



without losing any colors or fine flakes of 
the yellow. Then I mix in mercury thor- 
oughly, which takes up all the dust, forming 
an amalgum, which is finally separated and 
retorted, leaving the buttons of pure gold. 
We are figuring on another proposition and 
may not continue at this much longer. We 
have prospected these claims enough to 
know their value, and this is enough for this 
year. There is a good deal of trouble about 
the strip of beach between high and low 
tide, some claiming it to be public reserve 
and open to be worked by anyone. Several 
" squatters " are working on our claims who 
refuse to get off, but the judge will settle 
this next week. 

CHAPTER XXIV. 

GAPE NOME, Alaska, Aug. 6, 1899. It is 
Sunday evening again and I am reclin- 
ing against my roll of blankets in the 
warm tent. Foote is playing the banjo, 
beautiful music, too! I never appreciated 
music until this trip. Foote's marches and 
familiar songs, associated as they are with 
the freedom of camp life and that feeling of 
rest after a day's work, have impressed their 
memory as the sweetest music I ever heard. 
We are still on our beach claims; that is, 
part of us. The " Penelope " is back at 
anchor, having left Jett and Wilson on the 
scent of something under guidance of an In- 
dian. Cox has not reported. Our property 
is advancing in value and so is the stock of 
the L. B. A. M. & T. Co. The same stock 
which I was ready to trade a few weeks ago 
for some cotton batting, arsenic and plaster- 
of-paris! We own a lot in Anvil City 200 x 
300 feet. The beach claims are proving bet- 
ter. If we can hold clear to the water line 
we are safe. The past week we have taken 
out $250 in gold dust. Trouble with jumpers 
continues. Over six hundred men are work- 
ing with rockers on the beach in sight. Some 
are making from $60 to $150 per day. One 
fellow struck a pocket and took out $400 at 
one clean-up. Our claims are not as good 
as those nearer Snake River. Several jump- 
ers are at work on them now and we cannot 
put them off except by force, and that means 
fight. None of us want to be disfigured 
after our successful encounter with the frost 
last winter. We appealed to the lieutenant 
in charge, but he says he can do nothing 
until the arrival of the district judge next 
week. Several of our boys have gone up to 
one of the rich gulches to consider a new 
proposition. Maybe we will get a good lay. 



A " lay " is a lease given by a claim owner 
to a party to work a claim for a certain per- 
centage of the outcome. 

Aug. 13. Another week has passed away 
and very quickly, too, in spite of the hard 
work. From six to twelve of us are still 
working on one of the beach claims. Up to 
Friday night we had taken out $750 in dust. 
If the whole company were working at the 
same rate this would be good wages, but 
there are twenty to share with. The " Pen- 
elope " has gone down the coast again to 
look after the prospectors and may bring 
good news. Jesse Farrar, the cook, went to 
town last night, and I have been cooking to- 
day. We were troubled quite a little at first 
by our numerous Kotzebue friends dropping 
in for meals on their way up and down the 
beach. So we put up a sign, " Meals, $1," 
more to rid ourselves of the extra care than 
to go into the restaurant business. Really 
it became unbearable. 

% The town is booming. The beach claim 
trouble is not settled yet, and everyone is 
working where he pleases. Claim owners up 
in the gulches are looking for men at $10 per 
day and board, and cannot get them. A 
$310 nugget was taken from a sluice box 
the other day, and one man cleared $20,000 
for four days' work. Our boys have been up 
to see, and I ought to go. A fellow hasn't a 
chance every day in his life to see such a 
lot of gold in the rough, at its birth as it 
were, before it is washed or dressed or al- 
loyed. Most of the lucky ones are Swedes 
or Laplanders, they being on the ground at 
the beginning of the rush last spring. 

Gold can only bring $15 per ounce at the 
highest, and only $14 at some stores. In 
other words, coin is at a big premium. The 
beach gold runs very high, being much purer 
than that from the hills. Some was sent to 
St. Michaels and assayed $18.40 per ounce. 
If one had the cash he could buy up the 
raw gold and sell it. That is where the com- 
panies make the bulk 'of their money. It 
is a great temptation for some of our 
party to desert and start into private enter- 
prises. But I, and most of the boys, will 
stay together and I believe will come out 
better in the long run. 

They say Dawson is played out and that 
this is the next place for a boom. But I 
wouldn't advise anyone to come here if they 
have any way of making a living at home. 
Ten dollars a day sounds big, but when one 
pays $90 each way for transportation and 
ten prices for things here, there isn't much 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



91 



left from the short period of three months' 
work, and one is not sure of that. 

We have a short fish net set out beyond 
the surf. This morning I found four salmon 
in it, the first we have had since leaving 
Kotzebue. Only four of us are here to-day, 
but I had three " boarders." Three dollars 
in " dust " was good. 

I have forgotten to describe what "rock- 
ing " is. A rocker runs just like a baby's 
cradle, from side to side. At the top is a 
hopper with holes in the bottom to keep out 
the coarse stuff. The sand falls through the 
hopper-holes and washes over two " aprons " 
slanting back and forth to the bottom, 
where it runs out through a sluice-box. The 
aprons, and sometimes the sluice-box, have 
"riffles," or strips of cloth fastened in 
crosswise, to catch 
the gold. The 
aprons and the 
whole bottom of the 
box and riffles are 
of blanket, so that 
the finer dust 
catches in the nap 
or wool. A man 
stands dipping 
water into the hop- 
per with one hand 
and rocking with 
the other, while the 
other man puts 

in a shovelful of the pay dirt every now 
and then, and keeps the water tub full 
and the tailings cleaned away. Two men 
run a rocker, though when the " Penelope " 
crew is ashore there are three men to each 
of our four rockers. We have to carry all 
our water from the surf. Some of the rockers 
have copper plates amalgamated with mer- 
cury on the upper sides. These are better, 
as the finer particles are caught and amalga- 
mated. To " clean up " a rocker, the aprons 
and blankets are takfen out and washed in 
a tub and the resulting debris panned out. 
I am amalgamator, and have nothing to do 
with the rockers. I pan out the previous 
day's clean-up and amalgamate the dust, 
squeeze " dry " the amalgam and weigh it. 
We have no retort as yet and I have on 
hand nearly ten pounds of dry amalgam. I 
have experimented with it and find that the 
amalgam is one-half gold by weight. Oh, 
the boys have a little joke on me. It was 
the result of my first experiment and I shall 
never hear the last of it. There must have, 
been something else in the spoon 1 was us-' 
ing, nickel or silver, for the gold melted 



right into the spoon. I poured the stuff out 
on to a shovel-blade to save what was left. 
What did it do but melt right into and all 
over the shovel! The result of this is that 
the L. B. A. M. & T. Co. has a gold-plated 
shovel. We are a wealthy company and can 
afford it. 

Later. Anvil City, Cape Nome. I came to 
town after supper and am writing in our 
" city cabin," which is just back of the A. C. 
Company's store. We own a very fine resi' 
dence in the city 12 x 16 feet, on a 150 x 300 
foot lot. It is a good eight miles from our 
beach claims here, and as I walked it I 
thought it twenty. I wore heavy shoes, and 
the best walking I could select was on the 
wet sand along the surf. For the entire 




Tenting on Cape Nome. 

eight miles there is scarcely one hundred 
feet without one or more tents on it. The 
beach is riddled with ditches and holes, and 
hundreds of rockers of all descriptions 
gyrate in various rhythm. I spoke to many 
Kotzebue people whom we knew last winter, 
and all are doing well. The beach is still 
being worked by everyone, irrespective of 
original locators, a dozen or more on our 
own claims. The officer arrested several, 
but discharged them again. The townspeo- 
ple, saloonkeepers and transportation com- 
panies are against claim owners, as it is to 
their own interest to keep the mob taking 
out money. And they're doing it, too. 
Anvil City is booming. Dozens of frame 
buildings are being erected. Three big two- 
story sheet-iron buildings are going up, 
which comprise the government barracks. 
Several steamers have gotten over the bar 
and are in the mouth of Snake River. About 
two dozen saloons are raking in fhe money. 
This is a speedy place. I wish I had my 
time for the next two months here. Ptar- 
migan are $1 each for eating. Wages are 
$1 per hour. 



92 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



Cape Nome, Aug. 22. I am quite sure that 
I do not aspire to the realm of cookery, but 
yet, for all that, I am in the kitchen again, 
" monarch of all I survey." I do not blame 
the cook for stubbornly declaring his inten- 
tion to resign and refusing to leave his 
bed. No one heeded his warning given the 
day before. Pandemonium ensued. A dish- 
pan of mush finally appeared at the hands 
of Uncle Jimmy. No one consented to fill 
the vacancy at any wages. Three " board- 




Rocking Out Gold at Cape Nome 

ers " came in and were turned away. The 
dissolution of the company was imminent, 
all because there was no one in the crowd 
to perform a duty which is considered by 
all to be the most disagreeable of any on the 
list. I told them so, and several other em- 
phatic truths. "Practice what you preach!" 
was hurled at me. Then I rose up like a 
martyr and declared that I would " risk 
death " in the interests of the L. B. A. M & 
T. Co., and here I am in imminent peril of 
being wiped off the face of the earth by 
some " beach comber " whom I charge fifty 
cents for a loaf of bread. I sold three loaves 
at that rate yesterday. Also served fifteen 
meals to outsiders at the rate of $1 per meal. 
One man came in for supper last night who 
planked down a bag of dust worth fully 



$800 for me to weigh the dollar from. I 
poured out a little too much and he grabbed 
the bag and went out, saying, " Keep the 
change!" Most of the money taken in is 
dust. Cash is scarcer than ever. Copper 
plates are not obtainable, and silver dollars 
and halves are at a premium for covering 
the bottoms of rockers. The coins are amal- 
gamated with mercury to catch the fine gold 
dust. I saw fifty arranged in rows in one 
rocker. Our claims are now covered with 
beach jumpers and we 
cannot get them off. 
Mob law rules. There 
are one hundred beach 
combers to one claim 
owner, and the author- 
ities will not or cannot 
do anything. The lieu- 
tenant in charge gave 
us some notices to " va- 
cate," but the people 
pay no attention. It 
fell to me to go up to 
one of our claims, and 
I showed the notice to 
each of the workers 
along the beach. Some 
laughed at me. Some 
sneered. One " tough " 
consigned me and the 
notice to a warmer 
place than Cape Nome 
in August. He con- 
tinued to swear at me, 
and when I respectfully 
asked him to " be rea- 
sonable and give me a 
hearing," he told me to 
get to that same place I 
have mentioned " and 
quick, too." This at my own claim! I never 
knew I had a temper before, but for a minute 
then I do not think I would have been re- 
sponsible. I can easily see how murders are 
committed in the rage of anger, and if all 
judges and juries could put themselves in 
the place of the tempted, perhaps capital 
punishment, at least for such crimes, would 
be annulled. The man who threatened me 
was bigger than I, and I went on. And he 
is still working there, taking out $100 per 
day, so I am told. He is in a " pocket." Our 
pocket. We have discussed the advisability 
of using force, but have abandoned it. 
Fancher says we " might get disfigured," 
for there are people here just awkward 
enough to hit a fellow in the face. 
We are hemmed in on all sides and soon 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



93 



our beach claims will be worthless. Sun- 
day I retorted all the amalgam we had on 
hand, and eighty-five ounces of pure gold 
was the result. Seven pounds of the pretty 
yellow stuff! I broke the big chunks as they 
came from the retort into small pieces with 
a cold chisel. It was fascinating work to 
weigh out the rare metal and lift the same 
when it was put into the chamois-skin sack. 
I have turned it over to Treasurer Rivers, so 
it is off my hands. But what is fifteen hun- 
dred dollars divided among twenty men? It 
would certainly be better to divide up the 
company right now, for the individuals here, 
but we cannot lawfully 
do it. Complete deser- 
tion is the only alterna- 
tive to staying with it. 

Anvil City, Aug. 24. 

We have left the beach 

claims and are on our 

way to Nome River, 

We have leased a fifty 

per cent, lay on Buster 

Creek, and are going to 

see what is in it. It is 

our last chance for this 

year. It may turn out 

poor, but we have very 

good reports from that 

section. We hope to 

feel assured of some- 
thing good to come 

back to next spring. 

Ice last night, and prob- 
ably an early winter. 

The schooner is going 

up to Safety Harbor in 

Port Clarence to re- 
main until October 1st, 

which is about as late 

as we dare stay here. I must go ashore now 

for a boat-load of lumber for sluice-boxes. 

Later. The rats got into a box of my 
geese and entirely ruined them. I do not 
know how much else is destroyed. I have 
not been so absolutely down-hearted for 
many moons. All on account of those mis- 
erable rats. I came near taking all my col- 
lection ashore and quitting the company. 
But then I suppose "gold is to be desired 
above all things," at least this is what I am 
told by wiser heads than mine, judging by 
their whiteness and baldness. There is a 
prospect of getting some new potatoes 
ashore to-night, and these will be an all- 
sufficient antidote to low spirits. Somehow 
potatoes, and even onions, go straight to the 



seat of low spirits when a fellow has been 
without them a year or two. Strange to me 
that a man ever commits suicide in the 
midst of local markets where fresh vege- 
tables can be obtained. Ah, we shall have 
a great supper to-night! One menu three 
times a day beans, dessicated vegetables, 
rice, dried fruit and bacon grows weari- 
some unless the appetite is awfully sharp. 

Buster Creek, Sept. 3. Here we are twelve 
miles up among the mountains back of Cape 
Nome* It took two days towing up Nome 
River, which is really nothing more than a 




Placer Mining, Cape Nome. 



creek. There were bars to drag the boat over 
every hundred yards. That brought us to 
the mouth of Buster Creek, three miles from 
here, and from there we had the sweet job 
of packing up all our supplies and lumber 
on our backs. Rain most of the time and 
nothing but green willow brush to burn. 
It was very disagreeable, hard work, but 
here we are now, well settled, with an oil 
stove to depend on when the willow wood 
fails. We have a fairly good looking claim 
here, No. 4. Have it opened up and the first 
gravel through yesterday. The riffles show 
coarse gold, though in no fabulous amount. 
We cannot get much out before freeze-up 
this year, but ought to do fairly well next 
summer from present prospects. Some ice 



94 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



and considerable frost already. We will 
probably return to the coast the last of Sep- 
tember, The " Penelope " rode out the late 
storm safely when so many other vessels 
were lost. My latest news is that the rats 
have taken my goose box for a nesting den. 
One of the boys will watch from this on. 
I am cooking and it keeps me jumping side- 
ways to feed the fourteen hungry gravel- 
heavers. I have to be up at five in the 
morning and am seldom through untilnine 
at night. Have to bake every day, and have 
nothing larger than a single camp stove 
oven to do it in. Everyone is working for 
all there is in him. We hope to strike a pay 
streak, as they have on, the claim above us, 
rich enough to take out $800 per day. I 
have scarcely time to breathe outside of the 
cook tent these days. But I frequently hear 
the notes of familiar birds golden-crowned 
sparrows, gray-cheeked thrushes and ptar- 
migan. I shot nine ptarmigan the other 
evening close by. We are feasting on fresh 
venison. Yesterday morning a reindeer ap- 
peared on the hillside above the tents. 
Without malice aforethought one of the boys 
aimed and it fell to our lot. It is now 
hinted that the wild creature was a tame 
reindeer, and that the Laps from over on 
Anvil Creek who have the animals in charge, 
will most likely come to hunt it up. If they 
get a peep into our provision tent we may 
have to pay $100, otherwise it will be fin- 
ished by us with a relish such as few can 
appreciate. These Laplanders own very rich 
claims and, though they are really a lower 
class of people than the Indians, the latter 
cannot become citizens. 

Last w r eek, while we were coming up 
along Nome River, birds were quite numer- 
ous, especially the smaller species in the 
willow thickets. I saw or heard the yellow, 
black-poll and Wilson's warblers; tree, fox, 
golden-crowned and intermediate sparrows, 
gray-cheeked thrush, redpoll, snowy owl, 
flocks of golden plover and pectoral sand- 
pipers, one young Sabine's gull on a sand- 
bar; lots of large gulls, either glaucus or 
glaucus-winged, and perhaps both; loons, 
black and red-throated; little brown crane, 
pin-tails, and other ducks not identified. The 
last two or three days small birds have been 
very scarce. On August 27 and 28 the fall 
migrations were in progress. Most of the 
birds were heard singing, especially the 
warblers, as in spring. The ptarmigan are 
very nicely plumaged now in parti-colored 
costume. I wish I could save some, but the 
L. Bo A>'M. & T. Co. is mining now. I can 



hardly decide in my own mind to stay an- 
other winter here. I will let circumstances 
decide. There are hundreds of Dawson peo- 
ple here who say this will be a greater gold 
country than the Klondike. Some of the 
creeks are turning out immensely rich. 
One Swede came down from his claim the 
other day with $88,000. He got rid of $30,- 
000 of it in a saloon Almost immediately. It 
will be seen that the saloon people are tak- 
ing in most of the gold. However, I think 
we are on the right track, though it may 
take two more years to bring us material 
returns. In a few days now it will be: 

" Penelope ! Penelope ! zip ! boom ! bah ! 
Going home from Kotzebue ! rah ! rah ! rah !" 



CHAPTER XXV. 

BUSTER CREEK, Cape Nome, Sept. 16, 
1899. A week ago Casey went to Anvil 
City, across country twelve miles, and 
brought a batch of mail, containing our first 
letters from home since our arrival here in 
answer to our own. I received six, which I 
have committed to memory, sitting alone in 
the cook tent. If people at home, the wide 
world over, would write faithfully to absent 
ones, there would be joy in many a wan- 
derer's heart. 

Here we are, working like beavers, thir- 
teen of us, including me, the cook. It's the 
last struggle of a dying company. But it 
isn't dead yet. In fact there are many good 
signs of reviving, possibly to a more pros- 
perous condition. We have done little so far 
on Buster Creek but hunt for pay dirt. Just 
now we are making wages. Took out $400 
last week, including some very pretty nug- 
gets. The claims are too spotted; that is, 
the gold runs in narrow streaks, and neces- 
sitates moving quantities of barren dirt to 
get at it. Our largest nugget so far is $4.13, 
with a good many $1 ones. Over on Anvil 
Creek they took out a twenty-seven ounce 
one last week. That is a better size. While 
we have done little but " prospect " on the 
claims here, we have gained a good idea of 
their value, and expect to work them next 
year. A cold snap struck us three days ago 
and threatens to put a stop to our mining for 
this season. The creek is bordered with ice, 
and icicles adorn the edges of the sluice- 
boxes. We shall remain as long as we can 
possibly work. It is snowing quite heavily 
to-day. I saw the last Siberian yellow wag- 
tail on the 8th, also a gray-cheeked thrush. 
I saw a gyrfalcon and snowy owl flying 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



95 



along the canon yesterday. Scattering 
flocks of golden plover have been quite com- 
mon the past few days on the hillsides feed- 
ing on blueberries. I shot one near the tent 
this morning, although the ground was 
whit with snow. I can hear their clear 
notes every few minutes while I write. 
They are flying past along the creek or up 
the hills. I wish I could save some skins. 
But wishes do not count with a gold-hunter 
when gold is in sight. Yesterday immense 
flocks of little brown cranes passed south 
overhead. 

I am pretty sure this is the same species 
we see and hear so much of during the mi- 
grations in southern California, and not so 
often the sand-hill crane. 

This " cooking job," which has been thrust 
upon me by circumstances entirely outside 
my control, is something terrible. I will 
never, never get into another scrape like it. 
And yet " I am in the hands of my friends." 
No President of these United States ever 
accepted his office " by the will of the peo- 
ple " more surely than I now occupy my 
office as cook for the L. B. A. M. & T. Co. 
But for all that, I am elected by a sweeping 
vote. I repeat my previous oft-made declar- 
ation that I will never be caught running 
for this office again. In fact I never did 
run for it. It ran for me. An unquestion- 
able illustration of the office seeking the 
man and not the man the office. I get up at 
five in the morning; nearly dark now at that 
early hour. How cold it is! And I never 
was eager to get up, under any circum- 
stances. For a week nearly every night ice 
forms in the tent. I have an oil stove, with- 
out which I should never be able to prepare 
breakfast. Green willow -brush is hard to 
burn in the little camp stove. I have break- 
fast ready at 6:30, dinner at 12, and supper 
at 6. It keeps me " hustling " to be prompt. 
The office is no " snap." I am given a man 
to chop wood when necessary, otherwise I 
must do everything alone. And the dish- 
washing three times a day! Let who will 
envy me. Up to the beginning of the cold 
snap I made light bread, six loaves per day. 
But since it has been freezing in the tent at 
night the sponge will not rise. And there's 
no way to keep it warm. Fuel too dear and 
scarce. The camp stove oven is about ten 
inches square, with bake pans to fit, two 
loaves to a pan, one pan at a time. Light 
bread went a good deal further than baking- 
powder biscuit. It takes nine slabs of the 
latter a day to satisfy us now. We are re- 
duced to the bare necessities, no butter nor 



canned milk. For breakfast I give them 
corn-meal mush, bacon, bread, beans and 
coffee. For dinner bacon, beans, bread, pea 
soup, apple sauce and coffee. For supper 
either bacon gravy, made of flour and water, 
or stew, if we have ptarmigan or meat, 
beans, rice, apple sauce, bread, hard-tack 
and tea. Our reindeer was fine, but lasted 
only a few days. One unaccustomed to this 
fare of ours may think we are in luck for 
miners, and so we are, but one gets tired of 
the same menu for so long. And then the 
staleness of it, after being shipped and 
towed and packed and unpacked, and 
swapped, and crushed, and dampened, for 
nearly two years! Little freshness in it. 

The boys are having no easy job at shov- 
eling. Their feet are swollen, and sore from 
standing in rubber boots in ice water, and 
their hands are cracked and chapped. These 
every-day monotonies are the real hardships 
of a miner's life. He can tramp across the 
country for a few weeks and know that the 
end of his journey is at hand, and besides 
be getting some satisfaction from the 
thought of " glory " when he shall relate his 
perils to gaping friends at home. But this 
" peg-away " daily toil, in heat and cold and 
sleet and rain, after what may come to light 
in the next shovelful, and possibly never 
show up at all this is hardship. But through 
it all the boys who have stuck to their work 
are in good spirits, and this in face of the 
fact that the " clean-ups " do not always 
show up wages even. 

I have plenty of time to think nowadays 
all by myself, for I do not necessarily keep 
all my thoughts upon the grub. I do a 
good deal of my w y ork from sheer habit now, 
or mechanically. The boys are working on 
Claim No. 1, and these tents are on No. 4, 
so I am quite alone except at meal time. A 
regulation claim is one-fourth of a mile long 
lengthwise of a creek, and one-eighth wide. 

The " Penelope " is at Port Clarence, 
where Fancher and Jett went prospecting. 
The boat will be at Anvil City about Octo- 
ber 1st, according to programme, and we 
will sail for home as soon after that date as 
we can get away. Yes, home! I am heartily 
tired of this kind of living. I shall be will- 
ing to take a six months' rest before taking 
another trip, I am sure. I long to get back 
to my father's house and up in those cool, 
high chambers of mine, where I may once 
more feel "like a Christian and a gentle- 
man." 

The season is earlier than usual, and the 
weather much more disagreeable than at the 



96 



GOLD HUNTING IN ALASKA. 



same date last year on the Kowak. Every 
moment or two while I write I have to stop 
and stir the beans or apple sauce, or look at 
a batch of bread. The beans are boiling 
with rather a melodious gurgle, while the 
sizzling rice and the patter of sleet on the 
canvas overhead furnish a rather pleasing 
accompaniment. But it makes a person feel 
kind of lonesome-like. There! the old stove 
is smoking again! Whenever the wind shifts 
around the hill the draft is damaged, and the 
stinging, irritating green willow smoke fills 
the tent. My eyes smart and are very pain- 
ful from this cause.' I long for the voyage 
home across the water for the sake of my 
eyes. And now the snow is coming and it 
will but increase the mischief. I should hate 
to lose my good eyesight. 

A few cases of typhoid fever are reported, 
but none on this creek. We are all in good 
health. No one would doubt this last at 
meal time. The boys eat an immense 
amount of our monotonous grub and say 
their " grace " as thankfully as if it were a 
banquet. Little Brownie, the boy who was 
going to work eighteen hours a day if only 
he could " find the nuggets," comes dragging 
himself home at night completely tired out, 
sore feet and blistered hands. The work is 
pretty hard on the older men, Shaul, Wilson 
and Uncle Jimmy. But we have no hard- 
ships from other causes than voluntary hard 
work. Our foreman, Harry Reynolds, knows 
his business well, and we all like him. 

Anvil City, Sept. 20. We were frozen out 
on Buster Creek, and here we are in town 
again. Winter is upon us, the landscape is 
white and the glare is very painful. The 
ground is frozen hard, which makes walk- 
ing much easier than through a foot of mud 
and ooze. We are living in our cabin on 
our city lot just back of the A. C. Company's 
big warehouse. W T e made the entire trip 
from No. 4 on Buster Creek in one day, and 
were just in time, for next morning a snow- 
storm began, lasting until yesterday. We 
made the trip down Nome River in five 
hours in our boats, and then around to Anvil 
City outside the surf, which luckily was not 
heavy. And how cold it was! I was one of 
three to bring a boat around, and by the 
time we got here I was so stiff I could 
scarcely bend my limbs. Rubber boots and 
damp clothing inside. It would have been 
much worse had w T e waited a day longer. 
However, we are all well in spite of hard- 



ship, and are patiently (?) waiting for the 
" Penelope." We heard a rumor that a white 
schooner was wrecked a short time ago on 
the rocks near Port Clarence. It was 
thought to be the " Penelope." Alas, my 
dear collection! But if it were the ".Pen- 
elope " we would have been informed by 
this time. Then we have heard that the 
" Penelope " has been chartered to go back 
up to Kotzebue again for freight, and to go 
over to Siberia to trade for dog-feed. But 
a person must make a rule to believe noth- 
ing he hears in this country or he would be 
worrying all the time. 

This, for a boom town, beats anything we 
ever saw in the States. Thousands of people 
are now pouring in from Dawson to stay 
through the winter, and they say that this 
is a bigger place than ever Uawson was. 
Steamer loads of people and freight are com- 
ing in every day. The town is full of money. 
The town is incorporated, with mayor, 
councilmen and police force. Franchises 
have been let for electric lighting, sew- 
erage, water works, and all modern im- 
provements. Hundreds of houses are build- 
ing, many large ones. Lumber is $150 per 
thousand. 

I have a job for to-morrow in the mayor's 
office aligning a caligraph. Wages are $1 
per hour. I could have all I could do for the 
winter, type-writing and doing mechanical 
drawing in the Nome City Attorney's office. 
But I wouldn't stay here for $300 per month. 
No, nor for anything. I hate the place. 
There's the toughest crowd of people, sport- 
ing Dawsonites, everyone ready to " do " 
everybody else. It is the liveliest, speediest, 
swiftest mining camp ever seen in Alaska. 
And what will it be next year? All sorts of 
sharks are making fortunes. 

Sept. 27, 1899. Heigh-o! The " Penelope " 
has just dropped anchor off Anvil City and 
we are in high glee. Higher glee than we 
ever experienced on the Kowak, for we are 
going home! Our hunt for gold is over. We 
shall take some passengers aboard for San 
Pedro. I shall go on ship at once and see 
how it fares with my precious birds. They 
are my gold. We shall start at high noon 
October 2d, and expect to make the trip in a 
month or six weeks. Depends upon the 
wind. Now for our good ship's yell: 

" Penelope ! Penelope ! zip ! boom ! bah ! 
Going home from Kotzebue! rah! rah! rah!" 



THE END. 



r 



TH H NEW SABBATH LIBRARY ( Continued from second par* cover. ) 



In League With the Powerful 

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Grinnell, Joseph 

Gold hunting in Alaska 



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